LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. is predicting industry sales in September will hit 1.3 million units, reflecting an annualized sales rate of 14.3 million vehicles.
While it has been a strong month for the industry, demand is spotty, said Bob Carter, Toyota senior vice president of automotive operations.
California, the Sun Belt, Texas and Florida are showing strong demand, while much of the upper Midwest and New England are "a bit of a push," Carter said in an interview.
The showing by the warm-weather states is a rebound from the beating they took three years ago, when the recession hammered real estate prices and consumer confidence moreso than the rest of the country. Those areas showed the sharpest auto sales declines in 2009 and 2010.
Carter said the industry should have a fleet mix of about 15 percent in September.
Toyota's total U.S. sales, including the Scion and Lexus brands, surged 46 percent in August to 188,520 vehicles. For the year through August, sales rose 30 percent to 1.4 million vehicles.
Overall U.S. sales in September are expected to increase 11 percent from a year ago, keeping the industry on roughly the same pace as in August, J.D. Power and Associates said last week.
The J.D. Power forecast put the industry's seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate slightly ahead of Toyota's projection at 14.5 million. The August rate of 14.53 million was the highest of any month so far this year.