Economic indicators giveconfidence heading into the fourth quarter, when its North American production will be the highest in seven years.
Toyota RAV4 outsold Corolla for first time.
sold 35,614 RAV4s last month, up 9,000 units from July and the largest monthly tally ever for the CUV. The RAV4’s performance helped drive the automaker to a record 246,100 sales in August, the performance eclipsing the brand’s previous best August tally set in 2006.
“I think there’s an evolution going on in the marketplace, which we’ve been able to take advantage of with RAV,” Bill Fay, group vice president-Div., tells media in a conference call of the growth in compact CUV sales in the U.S.
Compared with August 2013, total Toyota, Lexus and Scion deliveries were up 10.2% on a daily-selling-rate basis.
The RAV4 was the second-best-selling Toyota last month, behind the Camry sedan’s 44,043 units and just ahead of the Corolla compact car’s 33,088. August 2014 was the first time the RAV4 has outsold the Corolla, but Fay says he doesn’t expect that to become a trend.
Camry sales rose 2.1% in August as Toyota sold down the ’14 model in preparation for the launch of the refreshed ’15 Camry late this month.
Corolla sales were up 27.7% vs. August 2013, partially reflecting the sell-down of the previous-generation Corolla a year ago.
The RAV4’s strong showing resulted in the best-ever month for Toyota-brand utility vehicles, which collectively sold 60,416 units. However, segment sales were mixed, with the Highlander, Land Cruiser, Venza and Sequoia all in the red, and the Sienna minivan, 4Runner SUV and departing FJ Cruiser SUV all in the black.
Continuing to struggle in August was Toyota’s Prius lineup, down 11.1% on a DSR basis. WardsAuto data shows all model lines of the Prius fell, with the liftback/V wagon down the least, 5.9%, and the plug-in hybrid dropping the most, 52.6%.
Through August, Prius U.S. sales were running 11.5% behind the same period year-ago.
The Yaris subcompact also continues to lose steam, with sales falling 82.5% last month to 523 units.
Avalon large-sedan sales rose 17.0%, while Toyota’s pickup sales were mixed. Tacoma midsize-truck deliveries fell 2.3% on a DSR basis, while Tundra fullsize-pickup deliveries rose 8.0%.
At Lexus, refreshed models and some slightly older entrants drove brand sales up 14.2% on a DSR basis, to a record August tally of 32,809 units.
The refreshed version of the luxury brand’s smallest car, the CT 200h hybrid hatchback, was up 27.7% in August and just missed the its best monthly result ever by 40 units, says Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president, in the conference call.
The GX SUV, refreshed in January, continued to woo buyers, rising 115.9% to 2,198.
More prominent models, such as the IS sedan, up 24.3% to 5,312 units, and the RX CUV, up 7.5% to 11,841 units, were a bigger factor in Lexus’ August growth.
At Scion, August sales fell 16.7% behind year-ago, with all five models in negative territory or flat.
The Scion xB, down 0.7%, was the best performer, while the closely watched FR-S slipped 22.1% to 1,429 sales in what is traditionally a hot selling month for sports cars.
Toyota sales through August were up 6.1% on a volume basis to 1.628 million, WardsAuto data shows.
While joyful over the strong August, the best August in 11 years for the U.S. auto industry, Fay is quick to point out Toyota doesn’t see the month’s 17.6 million seasonally-adjusted annual rate for U.S. sales as a trend.
“We pegged the industry at 16.3 million (for 2014), and we expect (sales) to fall back into more of a pattern that will support that,” he says.
Toyota has set its strongest fourth-quarter production schedule in seven years, Fay says, boosted by good economic indicators.
“Consumer confidence is up, spending growth is out there in the marketplace, interest rates are pretty stable, fuel prices are pretty stable. It’s close to a darn perfect situation,” he says.