Toyota sales to rise 30%?

Will consumers stick with the problematic Toyota? According to this report Toyota sales for March are forecasted to rise 30% compared to March 2009. Looks like the heavy incentives are doing the trick for now but time will tell how much damage Toyota will suffer from this mess.

From Automotive News.com:

DETROIT — New incentives are boosting Toyota’s U.S. sales big time in early March, and analysts forecast a 30 percent bounce for the full month.

After Toyota brand sales fell 10 percent in February as it struggled with safety recalls, on March 1 Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. introduced 0 percent financing, subsidized leases and free maintenance incentives.

Toyota Senior Vice President Don Esmond told suppliers today that North American sales surged about 50 percent in the first eight days this month, The Associated Press reported.

Read the full article here.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

  

Toyota records subpoenaed by U.S. House committee

Things could get real ugly here!

From AutoNews.com:

WASHINGTON — A House panel today subpoenaed confidential internal documents that a former Toyota Motor Corp. lawyer has said show that the automaker destroyed legal evidence about SUV rollover accidents.

The House Oversight Committee issued the subpoena as part of its investigation into Toyota’s problems with unintended acceleration. It has scheduled a Feb. 24 hearing at which Toyota President Akio Toyoda agreed today to testify.

The subpoena was issued to former Toyota lawyer Dimitrios Biller, who worked at Toyota’s North American headquarters in Torrance, Calif., managing rollover cases from 2003 to 2007.

Read the full article here.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

  

Ford passing Toyota in U.S.

With all of Toyota’s current problems, projections for 2010 are tilting towards Ford Motor Company retaking the #2 spot in the US for sales with GM currently retaining the #1 spot. This could be a big blow to Toyota as for years they just kept of trucking along towards the #1 position but it looks like the faulty gas acceleration problem is torching their plans and the bleeding hasn’t stopped.

It is truly amazing that one year after Ford was on the brink of disaster, the blue oval is now the darling of the US auto market. Hint to Ford: Learn from Toyota’s mistakes. One more hint: Toyota won’t take this laying down and will come back with a vengeance and big time product to get back on track.

From Zacks.com:

According to a report by auto research website Edmunds.com, Ford Motor Co. (F – Analyst Report) has become the second-biggest automaker in the U.S. behind General Motors. With this, Ford has overtaken Toyota Motor Corp. (TM – Analyst Report) in the wake of Toyota’s damaging parade of recalls.

According to the website, Toyota is expected to lose more than 1 percentage point of the U.S. market share to hit 16.45% in 2010 due to its global recall of 8.5 million vehicles related to their problem accelerator gas pedals and braking systems. Meanwhile, Ford is expected to achieve 16.57% of the market in the year following General Motors with 18.12% of the market.

Read the full article here.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

  

Has Toyota jumped the shark in the U.S.?

toyota-camry

That may a silly question as it relates to the most successful car company in recent years, but Toyota has been facing some issues that go beyond the problems caused by the economic crisis.

The Detroit News has a lengthy article about how Toyota is no longer profitable in North America, and Yoshimi Inaba, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor America and chairman and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA, made some pretty stunning admissions about the problems facing Toyota.

Because of Toyota’s success for the last eight years, there was an attitude among some executives that, “OK, now we have been so successful, we understand the market, so can make a decision there rather than here,” Inaba said.

Inaba said the company is listening to the market, and customers “had been a little bit lost.”

When asked whether Toyota had become complacent, he said, “Complacent or arrogant — a lot of people use that — I don’t know,” he said, adding that the company had tried to guard against those qualities.

Inaba acknowledged that Toyota vehicles had often lacked “passion” and that the company’s vehicles must be “more exciting, more nimble.”

“Toyota is a good car but not exciting. Those are the comments we usually (or) always get,” Inaba said.

In my opinion Toyota has just found itself in a position where the competition has caught up to them in quality and surpassed them in design. When you consider that other automakers have figured out how to build cars more efficiently, the edge is gone for the Japanese giant. Toyota took advantage of that cost advantage and that allowed them to rake in big profits. When the economy comes back they will make money again but their rivals are growing with Hyundai looking like the real value in the foreign car crowd (have you seen the Genesis?) and Lexus looking more and more like an overpriced Camry.

Also, did I mention that Ford is at the start of their best product launches in decades and GM and Chrysler are trimmed down and ready to compete again? Let the games begin!

  

Toyota’s new boss speaks with Fortune

Toyota’s new President is starting at the time when the mighty Toyota is having uncharacteristic problems. Toyota’s U.S. sales tanked in June, and for the first six months of 2009 Toyota was outsold by Ford in the United States.

Fortune spoke with Akio Toyoda about his vision for Toyota’s future.

Even though he has the same last name as five of the 10 previous presidents of Toyota Motor, Akio Toyoda is nothing like his predecessors.

Item: He has spent seven years in the U.S., holds an MBA, and speaks flawless English.

Item: He likes to race cars and just completed a 24-hour endurance competition with three other team members in a Toyota supercar at Germany’s famed Nürburgring.

Item: At age 53 he is 14 years younger than the man he is succeeding, and he believes that his relative youth “can make a unique contribution” to the company.

Toyoda takes office two months after Toyota reported the biggest annual loss in its history — $4.4 billion. He thinks that his family’s company — at last count, the Toyoda clan owned approximately 2% of the stock — suffered because of a “once-in-a-century crisis” brought on by the global economic slowdown, as well as Toyota’s own internal problems, some of them at its U.S. operations. He vows to rein in overcapacity, reorganize operations to strengthen control, and get the company back to basics. He especially wants to reinstill dedication to one of the pillars of Toyota’s production system: genchi genbutsu, meaning “go and see for yourself.”

Akio Toyoda is a grandson of Toyota’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda (the family changed the spelling of the company’s name for greater euphony) and the son of Shoichiro Toyoda, now honorary chairman. After getting a law degree from prestigious Keio University, he went to the U.S., where he received an MBA from Babson College (the alma mater of another auto scion, Edsel Ford II). He joined Toyota in 1984 and returned to the U.S. for a two-year stint as head of NUMMI, the California plant that is a joint venture with General Motors. At ultraconservative Toyota, Toyoda is considered a bit of a radical. In the early part of this decade he headed the development team for an Internet venture, Gazoo.com, which provides information on new and used vehicles and which morphed into a lifestyle cybermall.

If you read the actual interview, he doesn’t sound like much of a radical, but it looks like some changes will be in order under his leadership.

  

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