Toyota ends 2013 down while Lexus rises

It was indeed a December to remember for the Lexus brand, but most Toyota division vehicles finished the year on a down note.

Lexus sales rose 14 percent in December, marking the brand's third-best month in its 24-year history. Deliveries of the recently redesigned Lexus IS more than doubled. Sales of the ES, CT and all three Lexus SUVs increased as well. RX sales surpassed 100,000 units for the first time in six years.

"Lexus had its best sales month in seven years and the luxury segment outperformed the overall auto industry in December" said Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "We expect the luxury market will continue to expand in 2014."

On the Toyota division side, sales of 408,484 units in all of 2013 made the Camry the best-selling car in the United States for a 12th consecutive year. Camry sales were down 5 percent in December and up 1 percent on the year.

The RAV4 rose 46 percent, while the Corolla, Prius, Yaris and every Scion nameplate posted declines. Prius sales ended the year 1 percent below last year's record.

"We missed it by probably a day of sales or half a day of sales but we came pretty close," Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, said on a conference call with reporters.

Sales for all of Toyota Motor Sales USA were down 2 percent in December and up 7 percent on the year. Toyota division sales fell 5 percent in December, including an 11 percent decline for cars.

Fay said the Toyota division was the country's top retail brand, outselling the Ford brand on that basis by about 55,000 units. Including fleet deliveries, the Ford brand ended the year nearly 250,000 vehicles ahead of Toyota.

"We focus a lot of our attention toward satisfying our retail demand," Fay said. "We try and do it one customer sale at a time."

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