Toyota Says U.S. Sales May Exceed 2 Million This Year

Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), Asia’s biggest carmaker, forecast U.S. sales this year will surpass 2 million vehicles for the first time since 2008, helped by deliveries of the Camry sedan and Prius hybrid.

Combined sales of Toyota, Lexus and Scion brand vehicles are poised to exceed the 1.9 million units the company had initially targeted for 2012, Bob Carter, Toyota’s U.S. senior vice president, said in an interview yesterday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Deliveries of the Camry, the top-selling car in the U.S. for 10 years in a row, could “kiss 400,000 this year,” he said.

Toyota is increasing its reliance on the U.S., the company’s biggest market, as sales shrink in Japan and in China. U.S. deliveries of Toyota, Lexus and Scion models have risen 30 percent this year through October, more than double the industrywide 13.8 percent increase.

Toyota, which saw U.S. sales peak at 2.62 million vehicles in 2007, rose 0.9 percent to 3,505 yen at 10:42 a.m. in Tokyo trading. The shares have gained 37 percent this year, the most among Japan’s biggest three biggest carmakers.

Total deliveries of 2 million units this year would be a 22 percent increase from 2011, while Camry sales of 400,000 units - - last reached in 2008 -- would represent a 30 percent increase.

New RAV4

Separately, Toyota is targeting RAV4 deliveries to rise 18 percent to 200,000 units next year from about 170,000 in 2012, Bill Fay, group vice president of U.S. sales, said yesterday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The new sport-utility vehicle, which goes on sale in early January, is available only with a 2.5- liter, 4-cylinder engine and won’t have an optional V-6 engine, he said.

“Primary competitors are everybody in that small SUV segment,” Honda’s CR-V, Ford’s Escape and Mazda Motor Corp. (7261)’s CX-5, Fay said. “I’m not so sure there’s going to be a V-6 left in that segment,” as competitors move away from larger engines, he also said.

Sales of the current RAV4 jumped 36 percent this year through October as Toyota accelerated production at the Woodstock, Ontario, plant after a slowdown last year related to Japan’s earthquake and tsunami. Honda’s CR-V, revamped last year, is the top-selling SUV in the U.S. with sales up 30 percent to 233,586 through October, followed by Escape at 219,907.

The new RAV4 delivers an estimated 24 miles (39 kilometers) per gallon in city driving and 31 mpg on the highway, Fay said. That’s up from 22 city/28 highway mpg for the current version and compares with the CR-V’s 23 city/31 highway mpg, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

The new RAV4 “is a sleeker, modern vehicle that competes much better with rivals in a small SUV segment whose market share has nearly doubled in the last 10 years,” said Jessica Caldwell, industry analyst for Edmunds.com, an automotive pricing and data website based in Santa Monica, California.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

Bloomberg reserves the right to edit or remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.