Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. revises its 2007 U.S. sales forecast due to the slowdown in the domestic new-vehicle market.
The auto maker now expects annual sales to reach about 2.6 million, an 80,000-unit reduction from the 2.68 million it predicted earlier this year, Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager-Div., tells Ward’s in a recent phone interview.
As recently as late August, the 2.68 million-unit goal was intact. At the time, Toyota Motor Corp. CEO Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters in Japan, “We now expect the U.S. car market to shrink slightly this year compared with year-ago, while Toyota continues to strive to meet its initial target.”
Carter says Toyota currently is forecasting industry sales of 16.1 million light vehicles, below the 16.5 million originally predicted for 2007, as factors – namely a drop in consumer confidence due to fallout from the subprime lending crisis – affect the auto industry.
“With the revised market, we’re actually looking at a little bit higher market share than we originally planned but a little bit lower in terms of volume,” he says.
Ward’s data show total Toyota sales, including the Scion and Lexus brands, at 2.001 million units through September, with a market share of 16.3%, up from prior-year’s 15.2%.
Forecaster Global Insight Inc. is predicting total Toyota deliveries will reach 2.65 million vehicles in 2007.
Slowing sales in the compact-car segment will impact Toyota’s Corolla and Matrix models, says Rebecca Lindland, Global Insight analyst.
“The compact-car buyer is impacted more by gas prices, so they’re likely to buy a subcompact or stay out of the market altogether,” she says, with the latter scenario the most likely.
The firm forecasts sales for the Highlander cross/utility vehicle and Sienna minivan will decline from year-ago, as will deliveries of the Tundra fullsize pickup truck.
Global Insight expects 2007 Tundra sales to reach 190,000 units, despite Toyota’s insistence the vehicle will hit its target of 200,000.
But for the Tundra to reach that goal, Toyota “would be forced to sell 20,000 units a month for the rest of the year,” and that has not happened in recent months, Lindland says.
A shortfall of 80,000 units would be unusual for Toyota, which regularly exceeds its U.S. sales goals. The auto maker tallied sales of 2.5 million units in 2006, two years ahead of schedule and a 12.5% increase from 2.3 million in 2004.
Carter earlier this year said the auto maker would see growth in 2007, but at a slower pace than in years past.
“(Growth) won’t be as linear (as) in the past because there are no real new large segments for us to enter at this point in time,” he told Ward’s in May.
Of the 2.6 million units, Carter expects sales for his division, including the Scion youth brand, to be in the range of 2.26 million-2.30 million in 2007, while Lexus should deliver about 325,000 units, a slight improvement from 322,434 in 2006.
The popular Camry midsize sedan won’t hit the anticipated half-million mark but will see an all-time record year, Carter says.
Toyota sold 448,445 Camry vehicles in the U.S. last year, including the Hybrid sedan and Solara coupe.