Whilecars managed a slight gain, trucks saw the bigger growth, as has been the pattern all year.
Toyota’s Highlander up 22.8% in April.
again had light trucks and a rejuvenated Lexus brand to thank for positive monthly sales. The No.1 Japanese automaker sold 199,660 units in the U.S. last month, up 9.0% on a daily-selling-rate basis from April 2013.
“The momentum we saw building in March certainly continued into April,” Bill Fay,Div. group vice president, tells media in a conference call.
While Toyota Div. cars managed a slight gain, 4.5%, it was Toyota trucks that saw the bigger growth, as has been the pattern all year. Toyota’s utility vehicles and trucks were up 11.2% last month.
The sell-down of the departing FJ Cruiser SUV spiked that model’s whopping 484.6% gain from year-ago, to 1,593.
Higher-volume Toyota-brand light trucks also in the black included the Highlander, up 22.8% with 12,507 sold, and the 4Runner, rising 57.5% on 6,300 April deliveries.
The RAV4 CUV, which has been seeing strong growth, slipped 2.3% last month, but remained Toyota’s light-truck volume leader with 18,834 units.
Fay blames the RAV4 dip on lack of inventory caused by an ongoing railcar shortage, reportedly a byproduct of the booming oil industry in the northern U.S. and Alberta, Canada.
The fullsize Tundra and compact Tacoma pickups again posted positive sales, up 18.7% and 2.3%, respectively.
Toyota’s cars had mixed results last month.
The Camry midsize sedan rose 15.3% on a DSR basis, and its 38,009 deliveries topped by 13,000’s Altima sales.
The Corolla compact car had its best month since the new ’14 model went on sale late last summer, rising 15.1% over April 2013.
But the Prius lineup again slumped, slipping 12.9%, its eighth decline in the past 12 months.
Breaking Prius sales down, the liftback and V models fell 22.7%, WardsAuto data shows, while the C subcompact fell 1.6% and the plug-in model rose 179.5%.
The Scion brand, whose sales are reported under Toyota Div. cars, lost 9.1% of its year-ago volume, with only the tC sport coupe in the black, up 10.0%. The tiny iQ city car took the biggest plunge, down 50.9% with just 196 sold.
Fresh product provided another shot in the arm to Lexus, with the brand rising 23.1% on a DSR basis from year-ago, thanks to positive sales from more than half of its lineup.
“Shoppers continue to move up or back into luxury segments, and especially all-new luxury products,” says Jeff Bracken, Lexus Div. group vice president.
The IS recorded the highest growth among Lexus cars, up 102.3% from April 2013, when the brand was still selling down the previous-generation model. ES and GS sales rose 13.3% and 16.7%, respectively.
Lexus’ large LX SUV fell below year-ago but the RX CUV and GX SUV both had a good month, with the GX posting the brand’s largest increase, 140.6%, on modest sales of 1,639 units.
Healthier inventory levels are forecast for May for Toyota and Lexus, with Toyota set to launch its second national sales event of the year, “Toyota Time,” in the month.
“We’re very well positioned to take advantage of the spring sales market in May,” Fay says, noting Toyota remains optimistic about the U.S. market overall, with a current sales pace of 16 million-plus units for the year.