sales tumbled 27.9% in the U.S. in May, to 108,387 units, Ward’s data shows, a low not seen since February 2010, when Toyota was in the middle of its high-profile recall scandal.
Because of the low tally, brought about in part by constrained production following the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March, Ward’s is predicting’s monthly U.S. market share will fall to a 7-year low.
The only silver lining for Toyota is that its sales were not usurped by Korea’s-Kia Automotive Group.
The two brands delivered a combined 107,426 vehicles in the U.S. last month.
However,did exceed Toyota’s tally for May, with 114,751 sales, the first time Chrysler has beaten Toyota since February 2006.
With only a few exceptions, all models were in the red for Toyota in May, including the popular Prius hybrid, whose 6,924 deliveries represents the lowest monthly result for the car since February 2006, Ward’s data shows.
“Availability (of Toyota units in dealer stock) will be improving in the month of June significantly vs. the month of May,” Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager-Toyota Div., tells media in his monthly sales call.
Carter says low inventory killed Toyota last month. The division ended May with 195,000 units in stock, 50,000 fewer than at the start of the month.
He sees Toyota’s June sales likely coming in below like-2010, as well, as dealer stock won’t be replenished fully until later in the month.
Toyota’s top sellers, the Camry and Corolla, took a licking in May, down 29% and 30.1%, respectively, excluding the Camry Hybrid and Corolla-based Matrix hatchback.
To boost Camry sales, 0% financing for 60 months nationwide is being introduced, plus a below-$200 per month lease, Carter says. Other Toyota models, including the Tundra fullsize pickup truck, also will see 0% financing.
The rare winners in May were the Scion tC and xD models. The tC, whose second generation went on sale last year, saw deliveries surge 119% ahead of a weak year-ago result.
The xD inched up just 1.1%. The only Toyota-brand model to see a boost was the Tacoma compact pickup truck, up 14.1%.
Lexus especially took a drubbing last month, with sales of only 12,305 units, a monthly low not seen since January 1999, Ward’s data shows. Things could have been worse. “Our residual values are hanging so strong right now,” Lexus Div. chief Mark Templin says. “Our leases are a good value. That’s helping us right now.”
Lexus, which imports all models but the Canadian-built RX from Japan, had just 15,000 units in dealer inventory at the end of May, down from a usual 35,000.
A bright spot for Toyota’s luxury brand was the new CT 200h, which brought 454 sales in May. While that’s well below March and April’s CT deliveries, Templin says Lexus’ calendar-year goal of 12,000 sales for the car is holding.
Because of Lexus’ heavy reliance on imports from Japan, the brand’s dealer pipeline likely won’t be filled until July or August, Templin says.