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Toyota Sales Surge! Outsells Ford, Just Lags GM

Incentives clearly worked in March as Toyota moves into the Number Two spot. Looming price war, if spiffs are extended?

by on Apr.01, 2010

Toyota dealers moved more than 35,000 Camry models off lots in March.

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. today reported March sales results of 187,000 units, an increase of 35% compared to the same period last year, on a daily selling rate (DSR) basis.

On a raw volume basis, unadjusted for 26 selling days in March 2010, compared to 25 selling days in  2009, TMS sales were up 41% for the month.

Based on preliminary numbers, this moves Toyota into the Number Two spot on the sales chart, between General Motors Company at 189,000 and Ford Motor Company at 179,000 vehicles, which excludes 5,237 units, an 18% decrease from March 2009, from soon-to-be-sold Volvo. Only the Ford F-Series pickup truck outsold the Toyota Camry.

There were large differences in fleet sales, however, with Toyota’s accounting for 9% while the GM and Ford fleet mixes were at 30% of total sales. Generally speaking buyers of vehicles from the Detroit Three are penalized because residual values are lower because of fleet sales, which raises the total cost of vehicle ownership.

A question remains as to whether Toyota is pulling sales ahead with incentives, which expire next week, or just recovering from pent-up demand in the marketplace because of the stop sale of the majority its vehicles in February and from the massive amounts of negative publicity resulting from ongoing recall and quality problems.

Moreover, depending on whose numbers you use, Toyota’s per vehicle incentive costs remain at least $1,000 lower than those of the Detroit Three.

“We are standing by our cars, and we’re grateful that our customers are standing by Toyota,” said Don Esmond, senior vice president of automotive operations for TMS.

The company is reviewing its next marketing options. “We will take the necessary steps to keep our dealers in the marketplace,” Esmond said.     (more…)