Toyota, Scion and Lexus have nearly put inventory shortages behind them, and the improvement in stockpiles is starting to show up in the automaker's U.S. sales results, company executives said today.
"All of our plants are operating at normal levels," said Bob Carter, Toyota Division general manager. "We're close to near normal inventory."
March's earthquake in Japan, which damaged many suppliers' plants, hobbled production. Carter expects inventories to return to normal in the first quarter.
Sales of Toyota Division, which includes Scion, and Lexus in the United States were up 7 percent in November from November 2010. Combined sales at the two divisions reached 137,960 units. Scion sales dropped 7 percent to 3,553.
The brands also benefited from the early launch of year end sales promotions.
Toyota's best seller, the Camry, has been redesigned for 2012 and enjoyed a 13 percent increase in sales to 23,440 units. The Camry Hybrid is also off to a strong start, as is the sporty Camry SE model, which is bringing in younger customers. The average age of SE buyers is 41.
"I'm asking Georgetown to build all the Camry Hybrids and SEs that they can build," Carter said. The company's plant in Georgetown, Ky., assembles Camrys.
Prius sales jumped 49 percent to 15,208, in part because the new Prius V wagon has joined the lineup for 2012.
Carter said that Corolla inventories are still lighter than normal, as are stocks of two pickups, the Tundra and Tacoma. But he said pickup production is no longer a problem. Rather, demand is healthy, in part because of lower fuel prices.
Toyota and Lexus year-to-date U.S. sales still lag 2010 levels. Through 11 months this year, the two brands sold 1.42 million units vs. 1.54 million in the same period of 2010.
On Dec. 1, the company had a 46-day supply of Toyota vehicles and a 30-day supply of Lexus vehicles, Carter said.