July 10 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp.'s Corolla, the world's best-selling small car, will keep its current design for a record sixth year, until 2008, as the automaker focuses on rolling out other new models.
``There was a decision to be made regarding engineering resources,'' John Hanson, a spokesman for Toyota's U.S. unit, said in an interview today. ``We decided to let Corolla go a little longer, mainly because Corolla has been such a huge sales success compared with where we thought it would be at this stage of its life cycle.''
U.S. sales of Corolla sedans and the related Matrix hatchback climbed 13 percent in the first half of 2006 as U.S. gasoline at almost $3 a gallon helped propel demand for compacts such as Corolla and its key competitor, Honda Motor Co.'s Civic.
Toyota has sold more than 30 million Corollas since the model debuted in Japan in 1966. None of its previous designs has been on the market for more than five years, according to Toyota's Web site. The current version was released in March 2002.
Ensuring a smooth release of the new midsize Camry sedan, Toyota's top-selling U.S. model, was a primary reason for slowing the Corolla schedule, Hanson said.
``We were using essentially all engineering resources to make sure Camry launched on time,'' Hanson said. ``We are very comfortable that the current generation Corolla would be just fine for an additional year.''
Corolla sales in the U.S. this year totaled 197,303 through June, compared with 174,054 a year earlier.
Automotive News, a trade publication, reported the Corolla delay today in its July 10 edition, based on an interview with David Danzer, group vice president of planning and development for Torrance, California-based Toyota Motor Sales.
The magazine said Toyota, the world's second-largest automaker, pushed back the release so it could devise a more compelling exterior design to compete with the 2005 revamping of the Civic.
``That's not how Toyota operates'' Hanson said. Styling of the new Corolla ``was set far in advance of the Civic coming out,'' he said.
Shares of Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota rose $1.11 to $105.49 at 4:26 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have gained less than 1 percent this year.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at