'Very solid' April drives Toyota to 13% advance

April marked the largest percentage gain in U.S. sales in eight months for the Toyota Division.

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Fourteen nameplates from Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. posted double or triple-digit U.S. sales gains in April, and the company said its Toyota Division was the industry's top-selling brand among retail customers for a fourth consecutive month.

The automaker said its overall sales rose 13 percent from a year ago, to 199,660 units, outpacing the industry's total gain of 8 percent. Sales at Toyota Division advanced 12 percent to 176,495 units, while Lexus sales increased 28 percent to 23,165.

April marked the largest percentage gain in eight months for Toyota Division and the largest in more than a year for Lexus.

“The momentum we saw building in March certainly continued into April,” Toyota Division General Manager Bill Fay said during a conference call with reporters. “Our business was really very solid.”

Light trucks led the way for Toyota, as they did for much of the industry last month. Toyota Motor Sales light-truck volume rose 18 percent while car deliveries advanced 10 percent.

Deliveries of two Lexus nameplates, the GX and IS, more than doubled from a year ago. Sales of the Toyota FJ Cruiser quintupled from April 2013, when the vehicle was out of production.

As light-truck sales rise, demand for Toyota's flagship hybrid car, the Prius, has fallen even with gasoline selling for more than $3.50 a gallon in most of the country.

Prius sales declined 9 percent in April and are down 19 percent through the first four months. Sales of the plug-in Prius nearly tripled last month, but deliveries of the standard Prius sedan declined 17 percent.

The Camry mid-sized car and Corolla compact each posted 20 percent volume increases in April, which made each the top seller in its segment. Sales of the Toyota Tundra pickup jumped 24 percent to more than 10,000 units.

At Lexus, six of the brand's eight nameplates managed increases.

“Shoppers continue to move up or back into luxury segments, and especially all-new luxury products,” said Jeff Bracken, Lexus general manager.

Fay said a backlog of railroad freight reduced Toyota's inventory in April, particularly some of its light trucks. But he said supplies were largely back to normal levels by the end of the month.

You can reach Nick Bunkley at nbunkley@crain.com. -- Follow Nick on Twitter


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