- Toyota created a media firestorm in Japan last week when it took the wraps off a pink version of the 2013 Toyota Crown.
- For generations, the Toyota Crown has been Japan's most conservative prestige sedan, aimed largely at executives.
- Toyota wants to change the Crown's stuffy image with pink paint, and hopefully attract more women drivers.
TOKYO — Toyota created a media firestorm in Japan last week when it took the wraps off a pink version of the 2013 Toyota Crown.
Some likened it to seeing your grandmother in a miniskirt. Others keep frantically checking the calendar to see that it's not really April 1.
Give Toyota credit for trying something new. For generations, the Crown has been Japan's most prestigious domestic sedan, but with a stuffy old-boy image that stuffy old boys in Japan actually happen to like quite a lot.
The Crown — in pink or otherwise — is not for sale in the U.S.
Toyota dealers love the Crown, too, because it sells in strong numbers, at high margins, and for decades has effectively had no rivals.
But times change. The Japanese market is in the doldrums, and Crown sales are down as the German premium brands continue to step up their attack.
Enter a courageous Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of the Toyota Motor Corporation. As he told the media pack in Tokyo, at the last moment, he authorized a big design change on this latest Crown (which he admits some inside Toyota are against). Design and driving performance, he said, had to step up.
Along with this, he approved this new pink color, something never before seen (or dreamed of) on a Crown. The prime motive, said the Toyota boss, was to mount a dramatic change in the image of the Crown.
At the same time, the hope is to attract some new women buyers and drivers to the Crown family.
While the new pink hue has yet to be signed off for the production version of the car (although Akio Toyoda is personally pushing for it), Toyota has at least achieved one part of its mission, and how.
Japanese TV and media have been all over this new pink Crown in a way few of the preceding 13 generations (since 1955) have managed.
The most talked-about car in Japan in 2013? You may be looking at it right now.
Edmunds says: Genius or crazy? Maybe this new pink Toyota Crown is joyously a bit of both.