Toyota, after 5 tough months, vows recovery in October
LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Motor Corp., still reeling from earthquake-related vehicle shortages, posted an 18 percent drop in September U.S. sales but said October will show gains as dealer inventories continue to rebound.
The automaker sold 121,451 vehicles in the United States last month, including Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands, down from 147,162 vehicles in September 2010.
Toyota has sold nearly 1.2 million vehicles in the U.S. market during the first nine months of 2011, down 9 percent from the same period in 2010.
Toyota’s U.S. dealer inventories remained below normal levels at the end of September -- nearly a month after the automaker said its North American assembly plants had resumed normal vehicle output.
Bob Carter, group vice president at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., said in a conference call today that the automaker had about 120,000 vehicles on dealer lots, representing a 30-day supply.
Carter said dealer inventories will continue to grow in coming weeks and months.
“That’s a little lighter than we’d like it to be, but we have a terrific number of wholesales that are going to be arriving to dealers this month,” Carter said in the conference call. “It’ll take us a while for us to get dealer ground stock back to what you’d think of as normal, but our flow of new products arriving is actually above what you’d expect from us at a normal level.”
Toyota Division sales fell 19 percent to 102,618 vehicles while Lexus sold 14,995 vehicles, a 12 percent decline. Scion sales grew 8 percent to 3,838 units.
Carter reiterated the company expects to begin posting monthly sales gains in October, reversing five months of double-digit declines.
“After five difficult months, we’re going to be back in a situation of year-over-year growth,” he said.
‘Spring in our step’
Toyota has “a little spring in our step” because of new product introductions and strong marketing plans for the fourth quarter, Carter said.
About 1,500 units of the redesigned 2012 Camry mid-sized sedan were in stock at the end of September after deliveries to dealers began late in the month.
Sales of the redesigned 2012 Toyota Yaris subcompact will begin this month along with Prius V sales. The Scion iQ will debut before the end of 2011, Carter said.
“We’re transitioning,” he said. “We’re coming back …just in time to be launching the largest barrage of new products that, frankly, we have done in this company in more than 25 years,” Carter said.
“You’re going to see us with a tremendous amount of marketing out there supporting all these new products.”
Zero for Seven
Toyota division will continue to offer zero percent financing on the 2011 Camry, Corolla, Rav4, Tundra, Sienna, Avalon and Venza through October to help its model year sell-down.
The length of the financing deals will vary by region and inventory levels. Carter said most of the no-interest deals were for 36 months but some were for 60 months.
Said Carter: “Low interest rates for the entire industry are one of the reasons that we think that despite some economic volatility, the auto industry continues to be a bright spot in the economy and we expect that to continue.”
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