Toyota Expects New Models to Extend Sales Rebound in 2013

Toyota’s U.S. Chief Expects New Models to Extend Rebound in 2013
A 2013 Scion FR-S is shown in this undated handout photo. Source: Scion/Toyota Motor Corp. via Bloomberg

Toyota Motor Corp., headed for its best U.S. sales in four years, will grow throughout 2013 on demand for Prius hybrids and revamped models including a new RAV4 sport-utility vehicle, the company’s U.S. sales chief said.

A full year of the redesigned Avalon sedan that goes on sale in December, the Lexus ES sedan and the four-model Prius lineup added this year, and new RAV4 and Corolla models due in 2013 will lift deliveries, Jim Lentz, president of Toyota’s U.S. sales unit, said in an interview Oct. 30.

“We’ll outpace the industry again next year with all the product cadence we have,” he said. “We’re still working on the forecast numbers, but we expect another good year. We’re looking at a market that’s going to continue to firm up.”

U.S. sales of Toyota, Lexus and Scion models grew 32 percent this year through September, more than double the industrywide 14.5 percent increase, and Japan’s largest automaker has said it may finish 2012 with a 30 percent gain. The company missed out on the recovery in U.S. deliveries that began in 2010 because a recall crisis that year and then by natural disasters last year, including an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, that slowed production its factories worldwide for months.

Toyota and other automakers are scheduled to report October sales today. While Toyota expected to post a 20 percent increase for the month, this week’s superstorm Sandy reduced deliveries to some extent, said Lentz, who is also a managing officer for the Toyota City, Japan-based company.

“We are just assessing the damage now,” he said. Sandy “for the most part shut off our sales last weekend in the New York region. The same with the central-Atlantic region,” Lentz said.

‘Bright Spot’

This year Toyota’s U.S. sales should finish “in the 2-million range,” he said, without elaborating. That would be the most since 2008, when combined deliveries of its brands totaled 2.2 million cars and light trucks.

“If you look at the overall U.S. economy, the auto industry has really been the bright spot,” Lentz said. “There is just a lot of pent-up demand, and the price of used cars remains quite strong. New cars seem to be a much better value than they have in past years.”

Toyota’s U.S. sales unit is in Torrance, California. The company’s American depositary receipts gained 0.1 percent to $77.47 at the close yesterday in New York.

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