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.
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.