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Toyota Could Lose Sales Lead to VW This Year

Japanese giant plagued by problems in China.

by on Jan.26, 2015

A Toyota dealership in China was burned in 2012. Weak demand there could let VW pass the Japanese giant.

Toyota’s worldwide sales surged 3% last year, once again positioning the Japanese giant as the world’s top-selling automotive manufacturer. But with Toyota officials glumly anticipating a modest decline in 2015, the Japanese maker could cede leadership to its ambitious German rival Volkswagen AG.

Assign credit – or blame, if you prefer – to China. VW continues to dominate the world’s largest automotive market even while Toyota struggles to gain traction there. Japanese makers, in general, have had serious problems making headway in China, especially after tempers flared due a dispute between the two Asian nations over ownership of a chain of strategically placed islands.

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At one point, rioters burned a Toyota dealership and damaged 100s of Japanese vehicles. Sales have only slowly begun to recover, but Toyota’s sales in China are still barely a third of those of the market’s top two manufacturers, Volkswagen and General Motors.

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Toyota Maintains Global Sales Lead – Barely

VW closing gap as GM settles into third spot.

by on Jul.30, 2014

Strong demand for new models, such as the redesigned Corolla, helped Toyota retain the sales lead for the first half of 2014.

While its lead has been narrowing, Toyota Motor Co. retained its crown as the world’s best-selling automaker during the first half of 2014.

The maker edged out rivals Volkswagen AG and General Motors in the global sales sweepstakes as demand for its cars, trucks and crossovers surged to 5.097 million between January and June, a 4% increase fueled by growth in markets ranging from U.S. and Europe to China and the Japanese home islands.

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That was not only an all-time record but exceeded forecasts – while positioning Toyota to meet a goal of becoming the first automaker ever to sell 10 million vehicles in a single year. VW is also shooting for the 10 million mark, though preliminary data indicate it only tallied sales of 4.97 million vehicles during the first half, GM following at 4.92 million.

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Toyota, Honda Gain Ground in China

Chinese car sales regain momentum in February.

by on Mar.11, 2014

Japanese car sales in China plunged -- and a Toyota dealership was even burned -- during protests over a diplomatic dispute.

After an unexpected slowdown, sales of new vehicles in China appear to be regaining momentum, growing by 18% in February, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) reports, as the Chinese market shrugged off concerns about an overheated market and the overall pace of the country’s economic expansion.

The upturn was particularly good for Japanese makers like Toyota and Honda which are finally recovering from the effects of a diplomatic dispute between China and Japan spurred by the debate over ownership of a chain of uninhabited islands.

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Both Toyota and Honda reported strong sales during February, as did General Motors and Ford Motor Co., which had record sales in what has become the world’s largest market for new vehicles. Volkswagen AG, which topped the Chinese market last year, hasn’t reported detailed sales figures yet but CAAM pegged total sales of new vehicles across China at 1.6 million units.

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Sales Down But Earnings Up for Toyota

Japanese giant benefits from cost-cutting, weak yen.

by on Nov.06, 2013

Toyota is counting on the new Corolla to help it boost earnings in the months ahead.

Toyota Motor Co.’s quarterly earnings soared by 70% despite slightly softer sales, reflecting the Japanese giant’s cost-cutting efforts as well as the impact of the weak yen.

Toyota increased its earnings forecast for the full fiscal year after posting a $438.4 billion yen, or $4.4 billion, profit for the July – September period, up from 257.9 billion yen a year ago. The world’s largest automaker now expects to generate a 1.67 trillion yen profit for the fiscal year that ends on March 31, 2014.

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“In addition to the impact of the weaker yen, operating income increased due to our efforts with our suppliers and distributors for profit improvement through cost reduction and marketing activities, such as enhancement of the model mix.,” said Nobuyori Kodaira, Toyota’s executive vice president, in a statement.

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Toyota Targeting Latin American Growth

Sees Brazil, Mexico key to remaining world’s largest automaker.

by on Aug.30, 2013

Former GM senior exec Mark Hogan recently became the first American on Toyota's board of directors.

Toyota Motor Co., the world’s largest automaker, is looking to expand its presence in Latin America where it has underperformed key competitors such as General Motors, Volkswagen and Nissan, a new member of the automaker’s board of directors said.

Mark Hogan, former president of Magna International and former General Motors executive, who on June 1 became the first American to serve on Toyota’s board of directors, told reporters that Toyota needs to expand its footprint in booming, Latin American markets such as Brazil and Mexico.

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“Toyota is an extremely strong brand in Brazil but it under-performs in the market,” Hogan told reporters during a Toyota press event organized to review the company’s hybrid technology. “We only have about 5% market share. It should be higher,” he said.

“Brazil is a very important market for Toyota,” added Hogan who ran GM do Brasil for several years. One of his key assignments as a new board member will be to help Toyota expand its foothold in Latin America.

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Toyota Earnings Nearly Double

Strong sales surge also put it #2 spot in U.S. market.

by on Aug.02, 2013

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, shown here during the launch of the Lexus GS, wants more "passion" in the maker's products.

It’s been a great week for Toyota Motor Co. A day after revealing a strong sales surge that positioned it – at least briefly – as the number two maker in the U.S. market, the Japanese giant announced that earnings for the April – June quarter nearly doubled year-over-year.

The 93% increase reflects a variety of factors, including the impact of the weakening yen, and came despite continued challenges in China, the world’s largest automotive market. The strong performance during the first quarter of Toyota’s fiscal year led the automaker to up its forecast for the months ahead. But Toyota officials did sound at least a small note of caution.

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Toyota beat estimates for both its first-quarter profit and sales, based on a consensus gathered by FactSet. April – June earnings came in at 562.1 billion yen, or $5.6 billion. Revenues were up 13.7%, meanwhile, to 6.25 trillion yen.

That encouraged the maker to boost its full-year earnings forecast to 1.48 trillion yen, which would be a 54% year-over-year gain. And Toyota now expects to reach an all-time industry record for production, at 10.1 million. It expects sales to be a slightly more modest 9.96 million, a target it had announced previously.

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Toyota Still Tops – But Sales Gap Narrowing

GM comes in a close second for Q1, VW close behind.

by on Apr.24, 2013

Akio Toyoda with the new Lexus ES.

Toyota maintained its title as world’s best-selling automaker for the first quarter of 2013 – though the gap began to close as the Japanese maker struggled to regain its momentum in the critical Chinese market.

The industry giant — which regained its sales crown last year after a disastrous loss of production in 2011 due to Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami — reports selling 2.43 million vehicles between January and March. But that was a 2.2% decline.  General Motors maintained its second-place position at 2.36 million vehicles, but closed much of the gap with a 3.6% increase.

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Volkswagen, which finished 2012 in third-place, maintained that podium position for the first quarter after a 5.1% increasing in global demand brought its sales to 2.27 million. VW officials have openly set a goal of becoming the world’s number one maker before the end of this decade.

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Despite Weakening Economy, Chinese Car Sales Still Solid

Chinese airline to start in-flight car sales.

by on Mar.12, 2013

VW and GM remain locked in a battle for dominance in the booming Chinese market.

Surging global stock markets slipped back this week as China released surprisingly weak economic data – but one sector of the vast Asian nation’s economy remains strong, Chinese car sales surging 40% for the first two months of 2013 after an unexpectedly weak performance last year.

For some carmakers, Chinese demand appears to be surging as they bring on new products, while for others, it is taking new discounts to help bolster sales.

But industry analysts continue to worry about what may happen as government regulators come under increasing pressure from both the public and a new cadre of Communist Party leaders to tighten environmental regulations in the wake of record pollution levels in the capital Beijing and other parts of the country. As TheDetroitBureau.com recently reported, stricter automotive emission rules – possibly including a press for more battery cars – are being actively considered.

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The 40% year-to-date increase in overall Chinese car sales comes despite a drop in February as the Chinese celebrated the Lunar New Year, a week-long holiday during which little or no business is transacted across China.

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Toyota Officially Reclaims Global Sales Crown

GM slides to second, VW in third.

by on Jan.28, 2013

The success of the latest Toyota Camry helped the maker regain its global sales crown.

Toyota has officially reclaimed its global sales crown, the maker confirming it produced 9.75 million vehicles in 2012.

That was slightly ahead of a preliminary tally Toyota forecast as the year came to a close and locks it in first place ahead of General Motors, which sold 9.29 million vehicles.  Volkswagen, at 9.1 million, came in third for 2012.

Toyota’s sales were slightly lower than the company had projected earlier in the year, the shortfall reflecting the ongoing dispute between Japan and China over a chain of small, uninhabited islands both nations claim.

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In customary fashion, Toyota officials downplayed the sales results. “Rather than going after numbers, we hope to make fine products, one by one, to keep out customers satisfied. The numbers are just a result of our policy. And our policy will continue unchanged,” Toyota spokeswoman Shino Yamada told the Associated Press.

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GM Sets Another New Sales Record in China – And it’s Not Alone.

Maker still has a month to go before closing books on 2012.

by on Dec.06, 2012

A Cadillac XLR at its Beijing debut earlier this year.

The once-explosive pace of growth in the Chinese car market has slowed down sharply this year – which means that General Motors had to wait until November to set a new sales record.

With a month left to run up the final total, GM and its various affiliates have sold 2,593,642 cars, trucks and crossovers in China, compared with 2,547,171 for all of last year.  The good news for GM – and its competitors – was that November saw a renewed surge in a market that has, over the past decade, seen sales nearly double in some years.

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GM isn’t alone, however, Ford was one of a number of other makers that also reported hitting all-time sales records by the end of November and still more are expected to get there by the time December’s numbers are tallied.  On the other hand, key Japanese makers could miss their once-lofty sales goals as a result of ongoing political turmoil.

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