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Toyota Motors said on Wednesday that its sales in the United States plunged 9.6 percent in May, due to sharp declines in demand for its Toyota and Lexus brand car models. According to the automaker, with two fewer selling days in the previous month, sales were down 2.0 percent on a daily selling rate basis.

The leading Japanese car manufacturer delivered 219,339 car units and light trucks last month, down from the 242,579 sales recorded a year ago. The Toyota brand, which includes Scion, saw a 9.5 percent decline, while Lexus slid 10.1 percent to 26,682.

Like most of its competitors, Toyota’s May sales outcome endured an adverse year-over-year comparison, due to twist in the calendar. Market analysts had warned that most auto manufacturers would report sales declines as a result, and those forecasts have been proven accurate.

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The company is also affected by an industry-wide change in buyers’ preferences away from sedan car models and toward sport utility vehicles and trucks. For some Toyota rivals such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, that has been very beneficial. However, Toyota’s strength has been sedan models such as its Camry and Corolla, and sales of those units have been hurt, affecting the automaker’s overall outcome.

In general, sales of Toyota brand  vehicles dipped 15 percent in May, while sales of its Lexus car models plummeted 16.5 percent from last year.

Despite the strong demand for pickup trucks in the US market, Toyota’s pickups didn’t help its results during the past month.  On the other hand, Ford and General Motors announced robust sales earnings for their highly profitable full-size pickups, while sales of Toyota’s Tundra fell more than 16 percent. The Japanese automaker’s mid-size Tacoma pickup performed better, but still registered a 5.6 percent year-over-year sales decline.

 

What Supported Toyota’s May Sales

Toyota and its Lexus luxury brand also offered SUVs, which have performed well in the previous month. As a group, sales of Toyota crossover SUVs surged 4.2 percent in May despite the calendar-related disadvantage. The increase was led by a 12 percent boost to the company’s top-selling SUV, which is the compact RAV4, as well as a 21 percent hike for the truck-based 4Runner.

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Meanwhile, Lexus brand crossovers posted a 3.4 percent gain as group, driven by a 10 percent increase in the RX line. The brand’s US general manager, Jeff Bracken, explained that sales of its SUVs were likely limited to some extent by tight supplies – an issue that Toyota is working to resolve.

North America has always been a main source of earnings for the company. Those profits are currently being squeezed by numerous factors, including the overall market’s sluggish growth, the shift in demand toward SUVs, and exchange rate trends that make the greenback weaker against the Japanese yen.

Toyota Recalls 490,000 Vehicles in Japan

Toyota announced on Tuesday that it was recalling a total of nearly 490,000 vehicles in Asian countries, such as Japan, China, Europe and other regions over possibly faulty airbag inflators supplied by Takata Corp., further extending a massive global recall.

Moreover, the automaker disclosed it was recalling roughly 45,000 vehicles from its Lexus brand in Japan due to passenger-side airbags manufactured between 2005 and 2011.

Car manufacturers are boosting global recalls if Takata airbag inflators after the auto components manufacturer, under pressure from the US government, agreed last month to announce more of its airbags as defective in the United States.

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