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Toyota, Ford Execs Square Off Over Trade, Currency Manipulation

Thousands of U.S. jobs at risk, warns Ford's Hinrichs.

by on Feb.06, 2014

Ford's Joe Hinrichs said the proposed Trans-Pacific Pact could cost thousands of American jobs.

The increasingly bitter debate over trade and currency manipulation unexpectedly became one of the hot topics at the Chicago Auto Show on Thursday as two industry leaders squared off over the proposed Trans-Pacific Pact, a senior Ford executive warning thousands of American jobs could be at risk.

The agreement would unite a number of nations on both sides of the Pacific Ocean in an effort to reduce trade barriers and expand trade. But the addition of Japan to the proposed TPP has set off fireworks, critics contending that the island nation routinely manipulates its currency to gain a trade advantage.

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That position has only been enhanced by the recent, sharp decline in the value of the yen – and the subsequent run-up in profits of key Japanese corporations like Toyota Motor Co. The world’s largest automaker this week announced it had earned $5.2 billion during the final three months of 2013, fully half of that due to the changes in the dollar/yen exchange rate. (more…)

Toyota Sees Slowdown in Growth – But Still Strong Year for U.S. Auto Market

Automaker hopes to finish repairs, end safety-related stop-sale in coming weeks.

by on Feb.06, 2014

Toyota Vice President Bob Carter is focusing on the expected surge in demand for new vehicles this year.

The recovery of the U.S. auto market is likely to slow in 2014 – but Toyota Vice President Bob Carter said he’s focusing on the half-full view of the glass, noting that the coming year will still bring another surge in demand, marking the first time since the 1930s that American automotive sales increased for five consecutive years.

Carter, who oversees the Japanese giant’s U.S. automotive operations, offered a generally upbeat assessment of the status of both the car business and Toyota itself during an appearance marking the opening of the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. Among other things, Carter said repairs have begun on more than 30,000 Toyota vehicles that were pulled from sale last month due to a defect in their seat heaters. They should be back on sale in a matter of weeks, he explained.

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Exactly what 2014 will bring is a matter of some debate – especially after the industry’s lackluster performance in January that saw a number of key makers, General Motors and Ford, lose ground. Toyota posted a 7.2% dip, year-over-year. That was a disappointment for those who hoped to see the market maintain the pace of 2013 when sales jumped by more than 1 million units, to 15.6 million, the best tally since before the recession. (more…)

US Car Market Boom Likely to Continue, Forecasts Senior Toyota Exec

But sales may not set new record, cautions Carter.

by on Sep.05, 2013

Toyota's Camry outpaced the already strong surge of the US car market last month.

August’s strong automotive sales surge seems to have taken everyone by surprise, including top managers at Toyota — demand for the Japanese maker’s Toyota, Lexus and Scion branded products jumping nearly 23% last month as the U.S. market reached its highest level in at least six years.

A variety of factors seem to be drawing buyers back to showrooms, suggested Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales, USA. But one stands out, “Consumer confidence,” he said succinctly. “People are feeling good,” and are increasingly willing to open up their pocketbooks again.

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Industry analysts and observers have been steadily raising their forecasts for 2013 and beyond, and Toyota is no exception. After the worst industry downturn in decades, demand is likely to top 15.5 million this year, and could nudge into 16 million territory in 2014. But how high is up? Speaking to the Detroit Automotive Press Association, Carter noted some forecasters anticipate near-record numbers of 17 million by as early as 2018.


For Toyota, Continued Growth Requires “Change”

High quality no longer enough, concedes autos chief.

by on Aug.14, 2012

The new Camry is gaining ground, says Carter, by appealing to a new generation of buyers.

“We’re changing who we are,” proclaimed Toyota Senior Vice President Bob Carter during an industry conference in New York.

That might seem an odd and risky strategy for a company that has been operating at the top of its game for most of the past few decades – with only a few uncomfortable setbacks like its unintended acceleration crisis of 2009 and 2010.  But despite growth that’s outpacing the overall industry recovery, Carter said Toyota can’t simply expect to maintain its growth by doing business as usual, even if the maker is “back on the top of our game.”

There’s no question 2012 is turning into a good year for the giant maker.  Sales are up 30% for the first seven months and while July’s numbers were “only” up 27% that positioned Toyota as the market’s number one brand in terms of retail sales.

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During a speech to today’s J.P. Morgan Auto Conference, Carter, Toyota’s Vice President of Automotive Operations, acknowledged that the Japanese maker has picked up sales from loyalists who waited on the sidelines last year due to product shortages caused by Japan’s March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  “But it would be a mistake,” the Toyota veteran insisted to think that “was the only reason for our growth as a brand” this year.


Sales Numbers Show Toyota Still Taking Hits From Safety Scandal

Latest sales up, but lagging key competitors despite hefty incentives.

by on Oct.05, 2010

Like its American rivals, Toyota now sells more trucks than passenger cars in the U.S. market.

Half-empty or half-full, Toyota’s performance in the U.S. market last month all depends on your point of view.

The maker reported what were unarguably its best sales numbers in five months during September, a 16.8% increase, prompting Group Vice President Bob Carter to proclaim, “Sales, in fact, were so strong during Labor Day, it felt like 2006 again.”

But after a year-long crisis that has undermined consumer confidence in the Toyota brand, the sales numbers for the current year indicate the Japanese auto giant has suffered some serious and potentially long-lasting damage.

While the sales improvement in September was certainly a bright spot, Toyota’s increase was notably smaller than those posted by several key competitors, including Ford Motor Co., Hyundai, Honda, Nissan and even Chrysler as the overall seasonally adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, for the U.S. market increased to 11.8 million units.

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Strong sales of the  RAV4 , 4Runner Highlander sport- utility vehicles, Sienna minivans, Prius hybrids and Tacoma pickup trucks gave Toyota a boost during September,  the company said.


June Sales Observations

There are signs of improvement during June, executives claim.

by on Jul.02, 2009

Click on photo to enlarge.

Click on to enlarge.

Sales of new cars and trucks continued to show, slight, signs of improvement during June. But anticipation of the new federal “cash for clunkers” program that starts in July appears to have slowed sales at the end of the month.

The sales rate dropped slightly from May to under 10 million units and back to about where they were in the bleak January period.

Carmakers said it appears some consumers postponed their purchases to take advantage of the federal cash. The overall economic conditions, particularly tight credit, also continue to weigh on the industry.

Thus, manufacturers continued to post double-digit sales declines right across the board as they have all year. General Motors reported a 33% sales drop, Chrysler said its sales declined 42%, while BMW’s dropped 20%, Mercedes-Benz -23% and Volkswagen sales fell 18%. Even Hyundai, which has gained market share during the first half of 2009, reported its sales dropped 24% in June. Porsche dove 66%. Bentley sagged 43%.

Why Wait?

Why Wait?

Subaru posted a modest sales increase of 3%, while Kia sales dropped a mere 5% and Audi’s declined 8%. Jim Farley, Ford’s sales and marketing czar, also expressed satisfaction with Ford’s decline of 11%, noting the company was gaining on rivals and it was getting more pricewise for its vehicles.


Third Generation Prius offers lower-priced version in answer to Honda’s Insight. Price War Looming?

Surprise move by Toyota indicates both weakness in the marketplace and possibly the brand.

by on Apr.21, 2009


While the chase is from behind, Toyota can no longer take hybrid customers for granted.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. surprised many industry observers today by announcing that the third-generation Prius will be available in at least one version with a starting MSRP of $21,000, plus $750 delivery.

A hybrid pricing war could be on the horizon.

In a sign of what was a lengthy — and unplanned — marketing discussion inside Toyota on whether to respond to Honda’s aggressive pricing, the lowest priced model will not be available until later in the year. The latest move is also an indication that Toyota can no longer assume it can command a premium in the battered automotive market.

The Prius will be offered with five levels of equipment combinations, designated as Prius I through V. They will range in price from $21,750 up to $34,250, when optional packages are included. Versions II through V go on sale in late May. The 2009 Prius model ranged in base asking prices from $22,720 to $24,990. The newly added new base model, with an as yet unspecified lower level of standard equipment, is scheduled to be available later this year.

There's othing like a little competition to find out how strong demand is for hybrids.

There's nothing like a little competition to find out how strong demand actually is for hybrids.

When the all-new 2010 model of the Honda Insight went on sale last March 24th, Honda reversed a premium pricing philosophy that it once held along with the Toyota Prius. With a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $19,800, plus $670 for delivery and any other options, the Insight LX, is now the least expensive new hybrid available in the U.S., but only by a negligible amount – if Toyota’s low-priced model ever appears.

The third-generation Toyota Prius has EPA estimated mileage of 50/49/50 mpg on the city/highway/combined scales and it clearly wins the coveted advertising claim of 50 mpg. Prius is about two inches longer, wider and taller than the Honda Insight, which looks to be a scaled down Prius. (more…)

Toyota Backs Big Three Bail-Out

Japanese maker "taking an axe" to costs.

by on Feb.12, 2009

Toyota's Bob Carter, with the Lexus LS600h luxury hybrid

Toyota's Bob Carter, with the Lexus LS600h luxury hybrid

In their desperate bid to win billions of dollars in additional aid, both Chrysler and General Motors are slated to submit updated viability plans to the U.S. Treasury next week — and among those quietly rooting for them is Japanese arch-rival Toyota.

“People look at this industry and see six big silos,” said Bob Carter, Toyota Motor Sales USA vice president, referring to the three American and top three Japanese carmakers, GM, Chrysler , Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Honda, that between them dominate sales in the U.S. “But once you get below that it’s like peeling an onion, it’s all intertwined,” he said.

Not only is Toyota concerned about the fate of the components suppliers its manufacturing operations share with GM and Chrysler, but it also has concerns about its dealer network, Carter said.

“A lot of our dealers also sell General Motors and Chrysler cars,” said Carter. “The whole financial system, supporting the industry is intertwined,” he added, noting that Toyota wants to see GM an d Chrysler regain their footing and thrive. “Strong competitors are good for the business,” insisted Carter.