Toyota Prez: "I Know That Things Are Out of Kilter a Little Bit"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
toyota prez i know that things are out of kilter a little bit

When the President of Toyota's NA Ops tells his dealers that the good times "are temporarily on hiatus," you know the U.S. new car market is in BIG trouble. The AP [ via the International Herald Tribune] paints a bleak picture: "Jim Lentz told the American International Automobile Dealers Association annual meeting that even strong Toyota dealers are reporting customer traffic down as much as 60 percent this year." Like his opposite numbers in Detroit, Lentz also believes– or at least says he believes– that the U.S. new car market will recover towards the fourth financial quarter, finishing the year at some 16m units. He also predicted that Toyota sales will rise regardless, continuing to buck the declining market. (Toyota sales rose three percent last year, despite a 2.5 percent decline in U.S. new car sales.) Thinking longer term, as Toyota tends to do, Lentz predicted good times ahead. "It is possible for the auto industry to hit 18 million sales annually sometime later in the next decade."

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  • Tonycd Tonycd on Feb 12, 2008

    mel23: How did this article about a Toyota exec admitting times are tough somehow turn instantly into a rip job on Hyundai? The objective evidence is 180 degrees removed from your claims that Hyundai should suffer because of "poor reliability." Instead, they've shot up to third in the 31-maker industry in one major reliability survey, flying past Nissan and a host of other venerable makes. New models like the Veracruz, reworked '09 Sonata and the upcoming Genesis are drawing universal praise. Do they still have problems with disorganized management and the dealer body? Absolutely. Is there any reason to believe they will somehow become more a focus of consumer discontent than, say, Chryslerberus? I sure don't see it. Did you pick their name out of a hat or something?

  • Geotpf Geotpf on Feb 12, 2008

    January was not a good month for Toyota. But one month does not a trend make. Last year was a good year for Toyota (like every year for the past decade or so). The new Corolla should boost sales there (Corolla sales were stable until late last year even though it hadn't been redone in ages.) The new Tundra increased sales by more than 50% over the older model. Prius's sales are also up by more than 50% due to increased production. The new Camry is holding it's own. Now, Scion is in trouble. The xD is doing even worse than the poor selling xA (the price went up (although it has more standard features and more power) and some people have problems with the interior). It looks like their gamble on enlarging the xB failed (as predicted here). And the tC is aging. But Scion is gravy; it's not their core business. Their core business is doing fine.

  • BobJava BobJava on Feb 12, 2008

    Toyota is in for tough times. You the whole "perception" issue for American makes? The reverse is true. A lot of people still don't believe it when you make statements like "Toyota (minus Lexus and Scion), as a whole, is no longer tops in quality." This will change. Frankly, I couldn't think of a single to reason to buy a Corolla or Camry over the Honda counterpart. The tC is outclassed by the Civic two-door in almost every single important category (price, performance, mileage, etc). Of course Honda sales dipped slightly last month as well. My point being, people will wake up in a year or so and realize they're paying more for less with Toyota. They might fall farther than they expect.

  • Johnson Johnson on Feb 13, 2008
    BobJava, Toyota in for tough times? Sorry I don't see it. Toyota is making a concerned effort to improve quality across the board. I guess you also missed the fact that Toyota has lowered prices in Canada on a bunch of Toyota and Lexus models, with some of the price drops being very significant. Toyota had a bit of a rough January, but a lot of other automakers including BMW had a horrible January. GM's sales were up but that is widely believed to be due to increased fleet sales as well as increased incentives compared to last January. While you can't think of a reason to buy a Corolla or Camry over a Honda competitor, a lot of people can. How else would you explain the fact that the new Accord saw sales drop in January while Camry sales remained solid? Or how about the fact that Corolla sales were still strong in January even though the old model is being phased out?