Toyota may never recapture the 17.0 percent share of the U.S. light-vehicle market that it achieved in 2009, Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, told reporters before the company's annual shareholders meeting.
Toyota's share peaked then because of a confluence of external circumstances, including the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler as well as a cache of funds that kept dealers floorplanned during the financial meltdown.
"I don't want to say we were ever that good," Lentz said. "We had some tail winds that were very, very unique. I'm not sure if 17 percent is a realistic number."
Toyota's market share will settle somewhere between today's 14 percent and that record level, he predicted. But U.S. sales will keep climbing, he added.
Why? The U.S. "has the greatest growth in terms of raw population of any industrialized country going forward. Between now and 2050 the U.S. will add almost 80 million in population," Lentz said. "The better years are ahead for the U.S. auto industry."