TOYOTA: Record truck sales drive 4.3% increase
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.’s November sales rose 4.3 percent to 197,645 vehicles compared with a year ago, propelled by record light-truck sales.
The group sold a November-best 112,126 light trucks -- a 15 percent gain -- which offset declining car sales, down 6.8 percent to 85,519 units.
“We expect to see the industry set a new sales record for November,” said Bill Fay, general manager of the Toyota Division, in a statement. “All-time best-ever Highlander sales combined with November best-ever RAV4 volume extends the Toyota Division’s 2016 streak of consecutive light truck sales records to 11 months.”
Toyota Division sales, including the discontinued Scion brand, rose 5.3 percent to 168,595 vehicles. The brand’s light-truck sales gained 16 percent to 93,816 units, while car sales dipped 5.3 percent to 74,779 units.
Sales of the Toyota Camry fell 8.9 percent, while Corolla sedan sales gained 12 percent. Prius sales dipped 17 percent.
Overall Toyota brand pickup sales rose 14 percent to 25,109 units. Deliveries of the midsize Tacoma rose 15 percent, while full-size Tundra sales jumped 12 percent.
Toyota crossover and SUV sales surged 21 percent year-over-year to 59,454 units, driven in large part by a 67 percent gain in Highlander sales. The RAV4 rose 2.7 percent, while the Sienna declined 8 percent.
Sales in the Lexus division fell 1 percent to 29,050 units, as a 10 percent gain in utility deliveries was not enough to offset a 16 percent drop in car sales.
The IS sedan was the sole Lexus car to report a sales gain in November, jumping 17 percent. ES sales fell 13 percent, while GS sales plummeted 45 percent.
Lexus light-truck sales set a November record, driven by a 56 percent jump in NX crossover deliveries. Sales of the RX crossover, the brand’s top-selling light truck, dipped 4.7 percent.
“Our luxury utility vehicles continue to lead the way, with best-ever November sales for NX and best-ever November sales for the full [utility] line up,” said Jeff Bracken, Lexus Division group vice president and general manager, in a statement.
Bob Carter, Toyota senior vice president of automotive, said Toyota sees "consistency" in the North American market moving forward.
"Over the next three years, if we end up talking about high 16 (millions), low 17s, (for the overall U.S. market) these are very, very healthy sales numbers for the industry," he said.
Fay said he anticipates the Toyota brand finishing with a record sales year for light trucks.
"I think we'll finish out the year very strong, and we'll have much better truck supply, sport utility unspecific, heading into next year so I think we'll be able to take a leap forward again in being able to meet the market shift that's happening pretty rapidly next year," Fay said.
RAV4 vs. Camry
Fay said the shift away from cars could cause the Camry sedan to fall behind the RAV4 in total sales in 2017.
"We'll be fully focused to keep Camry as the top-selling passenger sedan, but if the consumers continue to shift to SUVs like we expect they will, next year could be the year RAV outsells Camry," he said.
Said Carter: "There's only one CEO in this industry, and that's the consumer. And the consumer decides what the leading segment is."
Bracken said 2016 has "been a more expensive year" for Lexus as incentive spending rises.
"It's definitely been a more expensive year for us, but we're going to do what we have to to stay competitive," he said. He said Lexus is "pretty close to 50 percent" leasing.
Carter said Toyota sees "incentives as a tactic, not a strategy, to balance our inventories."
"What we don't do is put out these stair-step programs," he said. "Stair-step incentive programs, while they drive volume at lower costs, that's not the way we care to go to market because of the stress it puts on the dealer operations as well as the consumer itself."
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