Toyota deliveries fall 4% as each brand declines

Camry has best-selling title all but wrapped up

Sales of the Camry slid 7 percent to 31,871 last month, but the mid-sized car was once again the best-selling car in America.

LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.'s September sales dropped 4 percent from the year-earlier period to 164,457.

Toyota-brand sales fell 3 percent to 139,804, while Scion sales skidded 24 percent to 5,131. Toyota Division sales, counting both brands, fell 4 percent to 144,935.

Lexus sales also dropped 4 percent, to 19,522.

While sales of the Camry slid 7 percent to 31,871, the mid-sized car was once again the best-selling car in America. With a year-to-date total of 318,990 units, compared to the second-place Honda Accord's 282,102, the Camry has the 2013 best-selling-car title all but wrapped up barring some unforeseen sales collapse.

The just-launched 2014 Corolla was up 1 percent to 23,251, making it the best-selling compact in September.

'Still optimistic'

"We're still optimistic on the Corolla launch and the whole compact segment moving forward," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager.

Prius sales fell 16 percent to 15,890. Fay said inventories were at their lowest levels of the year.

Sales of the recently redesigned Avalon more than doubled to 4,514, from 1,571 a year earlier.

The Scion FR-S coupe was up 9 percent to 1,230. But sales of every other vehicle in the Scion lineup dropped at a double-digit percentage pace.

Fay said he doesn't believe the age of the Scion model lineup hurt the sales effort. "Scion is going though a model year transition, so that had some impact on overall volumes," Fay said.

Trucks down

On the light-truck side, the RAV4 continued its strong 2014, with sales up 15 percent to 15,928 for its best-ever September. The Tundra and Tacoma truck duo was off 4 percent.

Sienna sales rose 5 percent, narrowing narrowed the gap with the Honda Odyssey for best-selling minivan, but sales of the Venza crossover tumbled by nearly half. Sales of the Highlander and 4Runner slid 21 percent each.

Overall, Toyota Division truck sales slipped 6 percent.

After its strong August, Toyota started the month with an overall days supply in the low-40s, and added a few more days supply by the end of month

"We haven't had a chance to get new Corolla into inventory levels we would like," Fay said, adding that the Tundra and RAV4 also are in short supply.

'A hangover' senior analyst Jessica Caldwell attributed Toyota's drop to "clearly suffering a hangover, just one month after it achieved its highest market share figure since December 2010."

Toyota fleet sales were 17,171 units, or just less than 10 percent of total Toyota sales.

After a summer of highly publicized low interest-rate and lease deals, the Toyota brand slowed down its spending slightly in September during the model-year changeover, but Toyota "continuing to look at incentive spending tactically," Fay said.

"We try not to take our foot off the gas. We'll keep pushing. We have some new models to support. It tends to ebb and flow. Most of our efforts will be on new products we are launching and keeping our core models at a certain level," Fay said.

Lexus: No. 3

Lexus returned to its third-place standing among luxury brands.

Although the IS sedan was up 42 percent and the RX crossover maintained its volume leadership with an 8 percent gain to 7,601, the rest of the Lexus lineup suffered. Although both were recently redesigned, the ES was off 26 percent and the GS was down 15 percent.

Jeff Bracken, Lexus Division general manager, said the brand is on pace to hit 270,000 sales this year.

You can reach Mark Rechtin at -- Follow Mark on Twitter: @markrechtin

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