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Toyota aims to boost sales of pricier trucks in U.S.

Bloomberg More American buyers are paying up for tricked-out Toyota Motor Corp. trucks, while car shoppers probably don’t need as many models to choose from. So the Japanese automaker is shaking up its lineup accordingly.

It’s debuting new TRD Pro versions of the 4Runner sport utility vehicle and Tacoma and Tundra pickups this week at the Chicago Auto Show that are souped-up with off-roading equipment. More than 40 percent of those three models’ U.S. sales are TRD versions — and that number is trending higher.

Meanwhile on the car side, executives are reviewing the company’s sedan offerings and may prune back how many are available in showrooms, according to Jack Hollis, head of U.S. sales for the Toyota brand. The automaker is committed to keeping models like the Camry, Corolla and Prius, but probably could afford to field fewer grades of some of its vehicles.

“We will look and evaluate every single one,” Hollis said in an interview. The Yaris, Corolla and Prius each have several different variants, he noted. “Do we need all of them? We just want to evaluate the performance of each.”

Automakers have been scrambling to adjust to the massive shift seen in U.S. consumer demand the last few years toward SUVs and pickups at the expense of passenger cars. Ford Motor Co. has indicated it’s going to take a page out of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s playbook, which was to largely abandon traditional low-margin sedan segments to focus on performance and premium cars.

Toyota’s moves won’t be as drastic. It redesigned the U.S. market’s top-selling sedan, the Camry, last year and showed a revamped Avalon last month at the Detroit auto show. Americans will probably still buy more than 5.5 million sedans this year, Hollis projected.

“I don’t mind it if other people want to get out of the market,” he said. “We should be able to maintain and continue to grow market share.”Speech

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