DETROIT -- More than the recall crisis slowed Toyota's juggernaut last year. A paucity of new products hindered it as well.
This year, with the recalls in the rearview mirror and a swath of redesigned or all-new vehicles on the way, Toyota is "well on the road to recovery," said Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
Lentz predicted industry U.S. light-vehicle sales of 12.5 million units in 2011, with sales accelerating after a slow first half.
Speaking at the Automotive News World Congress, Lentz said that by the end of 2012, new products such as the Prius V wagon and the redesigned Camry will be joined by 11 new or redesigned alternative-fuels vehicles, including electric versions of the Scion iQ and RAV4.
"Our loyal owners are back. Our conquest owners are coming back, but not to the position of where they were before the recall," Lentz said. "We are well on the road to recovery."
Because of the recalls, Toyota sales were flat in 2010, compared with the industry's 11 percent increase. The Toyota brand remained the No. 1 marque in retail sales.
Asked about the cause of the recall crisis, Lentz said Toyota's "go and see" system of customer management was not adequate to spot the looming situation.
"We missed what the customer was telling us. We didn't listen to what the customer thought was important. We didn't respond adequately to our customers. We weren't very transparent with our regulators," he said.
Lentz noted that, among loyal Toyota customers who bought new vehicles last year, the loyalty rate among customers who had recall repairs performed was higher than among those who did not.