Party Time At Toyota: March Sales Way Up

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

While others have a bit prematurely called for a Toyota death-watch, we’ve been following the story of comeback kid Toyota for a while. In Japan, ToMoCo’s production, domestic sales, and exports are solidly up. In the U.S.A., where Toyota had taken the biggest recall-pummeling, Edmunds predicted a 37.1 percent rise over March 2009. Looks like their crystal ball is in fine shape. Expect Toyota to surprise when March numbers come out.

Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., told Automotive News [sub] that Toyota expects March sales to be up 30 to 35 percent over year-ago figures, outpacing industry gains. As far as industry gains go, Edmunds expects those to be 31 percent, we’ll hear a big sigh of relief when March numbers will be announced in a few days.

Much to Lentz’s surprise , their RAV4 is selling like gangbusters, which caused Lentz to suspect ”that perhaps RAV4 incentives were a bit high.” Speaking of trucks, they are back from the dead, at least as far as Toyota is concerned. “It’s really light trucks that are driving the business,” Lentz told AN.

Lentz said he thinks (hopes, prays) that the worst is over in the crisis surrounding claims of unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles: “It’s a matter of time. The dealers are doing a great job taking care of customers with their existing cars,” he said. “That’s where you start to rebuild the brand. And with NASA and the National Academy of Sciences on the case, we’ll get, to steal LaHood’s favorite line “to the bottom of this.” In six to 15 months.

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  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Mar 31, 2010
    Much to Lentz’s surprise , their RAV4 is selling like gangbusters, which caused Lentz to suspect ”that perhaps RAV4 incentives were a bit high.” Not surprising. Small/medium crossovers are pretty much the perfect vehicle: small, agile and efficient enough to be cheap and economic, butch enough to not offend moms-who-don't-want-anyone-to-think-they're-moms, big enough to do 99% of what most people want to do, comfortable enough (high roof & hip points) to make you not hate them. Just about everyone's product in this space is selling well, and the RAV/4 really is very, very good.

  • GarbageMotorsCo. GarbageMotorsCo. on Mar 31, 2010

    Not surprising at all. The dealers around here are still hopping while the local Government Motors and other Detroiters are ghost towns.

  • JohnAZ JohnAZ on Mar 31, 2010

    37.1% is better than the drop last month, but remember that Toyota dropped 39.0% in March 2009 from a good number in 2008, and is only regaining 37.1% from a bad number last year. And that cost them how much in incentive spending? Doesn't sound like a lot of cheering is in order just yet.

    • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Mar 31, 2010

      JohnAZ: EVERYBODY dropped in March 2009 v.v. March 2008. The way to look at this is simple: Are you gaining more or losing less than the overall market? Then you gain market share. Are you gaining less or losing more than the overall market? Then you are losing market share. The bottom line of this is quite simple: Other than Audi in the 80s; Toyota is bouncing back quickly.

  • Juniper Juniper on Mar 31, 2010

    Beware percentages. If you had 100 of something and you lost 50% you then have 50 pieces. It will take a 100% gain to get back to where you started.