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."