Toyota extends surge into 2013
Avalon deliveries, bolstered by demand for the all-new 2013 model, totaled 4,840, up 50 percent, in its first full-month of sales.
LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Motor Corp.'s U.S. sales jumped 27 percent in January, echoing their increase for all of 2012 and signaling another year of market-share gains.
A 26 percent increase for the Toyota Division – aided by fleet sales -- and a 32 percent advance at Lexus led the automaker to 157,725 sales for the month. The company's U.S. market share stood at 15.1 percent in January up from 13.6 percent a year earlier.
Last year, Toyota gained 1.5 points of U.S. share and closed the gap behind No. 2 Ford Motor Co. while recovering from natural disasters in Asia.
"The sales pace we saw in fourth quarter rolled right into January," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager. "It was a great start for the year for Toyota. We started with a bit of apprehension with the fiscal cliff, new tax rates, January being a slower month and the year-end push in December."
Fay added that the "pace of activity" of the last 90 days has prompted the automaker to revise its internal 2013 forecast of 14.7 million sales for the industry. January's seasonally adjusted annual rate was 15.3 million.
Toyota Motor Sales initially projected a 100,000-unit gain for itself for 2013. It is one-third of the way to that goal after just one month.
Once again, Toyota was the No. 1 retail-sales brand. All of Toyota's big-volume products saw increases, including the Corolla, up 32 percent, and the Prius family, up 37 percent.
The Camry accounted for 31,897 sales, continuing its run as America's best-selling passenger car. All Toyota trucks, crossovers and SUVs saw double-digit percentage increases. Hybrid-vehicle sales were up 45 percent.
However, a big chunk of Toyota's gains came in fleet sales, which represented nearly 18 percent of Toyota-badged vehicles in January, more than double the brand's typical pace. It also was above last January's big fleet numbers, when Toyota made "make-good" fleet sales to buyers who waited out shortages related to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Fay attributed the high fleet levels to a late start for the Camry's 2013 model year production, as well as January being a traditional big fleet-sales month for the brand.
"It will all balance out by the end of the year and be at the 8- to 10-percent range," Fay said.
Fay believes January's retail gains will continue this month.
"We will take advantage of continuing low interest rates to offer low finance and lease rates," especially during the Presidents' Day sales event, Fay said.
Toyota inventories are "almost perfect," Fay said, with a little more 250,000 units in dealer stock, and close to 300,000 including in-transit vehicles. That's between 10 and 15 percent more inventory than this time last year.
The Scion youth brand improved by 39 percent, thanks to the new FR-S coupe. The rest of the niche lineup was either flat or down.
The 16,211 sales at Lexus beat a 15,000-unit target by more than 1,000 units. Lexus sales fell just short of passing BMW for the month. The redesigned ES sedan provided the spark, with sales doubling compared to last January.
"We're right at a 40-days supply," said Tim Morrison, Lexus vice president of sales and dealer development. "Last January, we were a little light. We're in perfect shape."
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