Trucks, Camry lift Toyota up 7%

Booming SUV and crossover deliveries drove Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. to a 7 percent sales gain in October.

Toyota and Scion volume rose 8 percent to 157,225, while Lexus sales gained 3 percent to 23,355 last month for combined sales of 180,580 cars and trucks. SUVs and crossovers such as the Toyota RAV4, Highlander, 4Runner and the Lexus GX all posted gains of 20 percent or more.

“Stable economic conditions, including rising consumer confidence and employment, coupled with gas prices at four-year lows continues to boost light-truck sales, especially SUVs and crossovers, and we saw that again last month,” Bill Fay, Toyota division general manager, said in a conference call with reporters.

Fay said the auto industry posted another “excellent” month in October. Automakers are on track to sell 16.4 million vehicles this year, Fay said.

The favorable economic conditions boosted Toyota pickup sales by 1 percent, pushing overall Toyota division light-truck sales, including crossovers and SUVs, up 14 percent last month.

After posting a decline in September, Toyota division’s car sales rose 3 percent last month, driven largely by last month’s arrival of the re-engineered Toyota Camry, which boosted volumes of the core midsize sedan by 14 percent.

Fay said the re-engineered 2015 Camry accounts for about 55 percent of all Camrys in dealer inventory and that the sedan’s marketing launch is ramping up.

Yet with average gas prices falling to below $3 per gallon, according to AAA, Toyota’s hybrid sales have taken a hit, with Prius demand off 14 percent last month and Avalon Hybrid volume off 5 percent.

Fay noted that Avalon Hybrid sales are still up year-to-date, adding that Toyota’s hybrid vehicles continue to do well despite the market shift toward light trucks.

Through October, the automaker’s U.S. sales have climbed 6 percent to 1,975,368 vehicles.

At Lexus, car sales gained 2 percent on higher CT and IS sedan deliveries while the brand’s strong GX crossover sales boosted Lexus truck volumes by 4 percent.

Through October, Lexus sales were up 14 percent, double the combined 7 percent gain for all luxury brands and second only to Audi’s and Lincoln’s 15 percent year-to-date growth.

You can reach Ryan Beene at autonews@crain.com

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