Toyota’s January sales fell 7.2% on both a daily-selling and raw-volume basis, which the automaker blames on lower fleet deliveries compared with January 2013.

Toyota sold about 14,000 vehicles to fleet customers last month, down from 24,000 year-ago, Bill Fay, group vice president-Toyota Div., tells media during a conference call today.

January 2013 fleet sales were higher than usual as Toyota worked to fill orders interrupted by Hurricane Sandy in fall 2012, he explains.

Fay gives little credence to Toyota’s recent safety action on seat heaters impacting January sales or having much effect on deliveries in February.

“I don’t think (those units are) going to be missed,” he says of the roughly 10,000 vehicles the brand’s North American dealers pulled from the market after it was discovered eight models equipped with seat heaters may not have fabric that meets U.S. government regulations on flame retardation.

Lower fleet volume, not the stop-sale, was the reason for hybrid and non-hybrid Camry falloffs of 48.3% and 23.9%, respectively, Fay says.

Toyota also blames nasty weather in the Midwest and along the East Coast for lower January retail sales, which fell 2.0%.

Following a pattern of the past few months, January saw Toyota car sales decline but light-truck sales gain.

On the car side, the Prius liftback and V wagon models lost 26.8% of their year-ago volume, and all Scions slumped, including the FR-S sports car, down 36.2%.

It also was another down month for the new Corolla, with January sales off 3.5%, WardsAuto data shows.

Toyota Div. light-truck sales rose 6.5% last month to 61,141, Toyota’s best light-truck volume since January 2008.

The Tundra also had its best January in six years, up 12.7%, while the RAV4 compact CUV posted best-ever January volume of 16,880.

The new-generation Highlander, advertised during Sunday’s Super Bowl, helped buoy sales of the gasoline-engine-only variant 25.7%.

Lexus had a better January overall than Toyota or Scion, with the luxury brand’s sales rising 19.0%.

Lexus car sales grew 4.9% and light trucks rose 14.7%.

Standouts for Lexus in January included the IS sedan, redesigned for ’14 and up a whopping 120.0% and the GX SUV, up 96.9%.

The redesigned Lexus CT 200h hybrid 5-door also was in the black last month, up 29.0%.

“January sales were off to a good start before the weather conditions slowed the industry pace. We expect the industry to bounce back in February,” Fay says, noting good economic indicators forecast modest volume growth for U.S. light-vehicle sales.

Toyota forecasts a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 15.2 million for the industry in January, down from 15.4 million in like-2013.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com