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Toyota, Honda predict bigger U.S. share

TOKYO - Japan's two biggest automakers expect to raise their sales and market share in the United States next year with new models.

Issuing its annual year-end forecast, Toyota Motor Corp. last week said it expects its U.S. sales to match or top this year's estimated 1.7 million units by an unspecified margin. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. predicted its sales will edge up to 1.22 million from an expected 1.205 million.

Based on their outlook for U.S. light-vehicle sales to slump some 10 percent in 2002 to around 15.5 million, the gains would raise their combined market share to about 19 percent from 17 percent this year.

Those increases will be driven by new products, not incentives, executives said.

Toyota, which introduced a redesigned Camry this year, will launch a redesigned Corolla sedan and add the Matrix to its lineup in 2002. Honda will launch the redesigned Accord, the all-new Pilot sport-utility, a redesigned CR-V and a hybrid-electric version of the Civic.

Koichi Amemiya, Honda's executive vice president in charge of North American operations, said he expects the U.S. market to begin recovering in the second half.

He has strong expectations for U.S. light-truck sales, predicting they soon will account for nearly 60 percent of the total market, up from 50 percent. Honda expects to sell between 80,000 and 100,000 Pilots a year in the United States and about 120,000 CR-Vs.

Globally, Honda said it expects to sell 2.8 million vehicles in 2002, up 6 percent from this year, while Toyota projects global sales of 5.3 million, up 1 percent.

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