Toyota Sales Slip 36.6 Percent
And once again, the big T (via PRNewswire) proves to not be invulnerable to the weak sales environment. Toyota division sales were down an even 36 percent, but Lexus swooned slightly more, shedding 40 percent of its sales compared to last March. Scion models dropped between 50 and 60 percent, while Corolla proved more resilient than Honda’s Civic, dropping only 7 percent. Similarly, RAV4 and Lexus RX were off only 4.5 percent and 17 percent respectively, compared to 40-75 percent drops for nearly every other Toyota truck and SUV. Sequoia was also a surprising “could be worse” example, with sales staying over 2k monthly sales, falling only 20 percent compared to last March. Still, with sales like this it comes as no surprise that Toyota is dropping its second-half dividend.
Could the Lexus problem be the type of buyer they attract? Think about it? Those who are the biggest brand snobs or those looking for the ultimate in driving, electronics, and power buy German. Lexus has ALWAYS been the luxury car for people who got rich by spending wisely. A status car for people who aren't all about status. A luxury ride for people who don't like to drive. Now that the economy is tanking, these same folks, if still buying, could very easily be looking "value" again, and instead of getting a Lexus are now buying a Toyota or a Honda or a Ford. Who knows. Though you'd think there would be some kind of a Lexus drop and Toyota uptick if this were the case. Maybe these buyers just aren't spending any money period, since they're more prudent than their German buying counterparts? Being they probably already own a Lexus that still has 280,000 miles of relatively trouble-free life left in it doesn't really help. Could this be Toyota/Lexus quality/reliability coming back to bite them in the butt? haha. Back to planned obsolesce!
Those Sequoias that were mentioned are all '08 models. Toyota didn't even offer the '09 model in the States. I looked at two over the weekend with mfg dates of 11/07. Both were sitting on dealer lots with dead batteries.
All of the biggest automotive builders are having losses. Toyota still has a great rep for quality and durability. Lexus is a brand that has developed a loyal following and won over many German car buyers. Scion seems to be the brand that Toyota is lost. The TC needs more power, less weight, and to get the prices closer to 16,000 and under. Near where I live I find it funny to see how many 50 and over are driving Scions. Scion brand awareness seems lower than Kia. I would say Toyota needs to bring up the excitement some. They dropped the MR2, Celica, and Supra, from their product line. That leaves the Prius Touring and the Camry SE as their sport models. I know people get Toyota vehicles mainly for low cost of ownership and they last, but a touch more excitement could win over many more buyers. The Venza is an interesting attempt to provide some sort excitement to their line, but it is not what I would call real excitement. Interesting, yes, nice to drive, yes, but not exciting. Lexus would have done themselves a favor if they had spent the R&D money from the "self parking" system on getting more horsepower and better MPG. If they could deliver a fast sedan that drives like a G35 and gets 40 combined MPG, they would generate a ton of sales. Toyota sales maybe slowing, but at least they are a long ways from being as bad off as many of their competitors. When the economy picks back up, Toyota will likely lead the way. The one unknown is if a Chinese maker could do to the Japanese what the Japanese did to American builders.