Toyota May Not Achieve Rise in September U.S. Sales


A top executive at Toyota Motorsaid on Wednesday that achieving a rise in U.S. sales in September might be tough because of a spike in sales in the same month a year earlier.

David Zalubowski

"We had an especially strong month last September, with growth of around 25%, so it may be difficult for sales to rise," Executive Vice President Mitsuo Kinoshita told a small group of reporters.

He repeated, however, that Toyota's U.S. sales would likely rise for the full calendar year despite a weaker overall market for cars. Earlier this month, he said the automaker was on track to grow 5% in the United States, its biggest market.

Toyota's adjusted U.S. sales fell in July for the first time in almost three years, mainly due to difficult comparisons from the year before. They fell again in August.

In Japan, President Katsuaki Watanabe said he expected Toyota's sales to grow in September from the previous year thanks to a raft of new product launches since June, including the Blade and Vanguard models.

The world's most profitable carmaker unveiled on Wednesday another new car, Mark X Zio, exclusively for the domestic market with a goal of selling an average 4,000 units a month during the life of the model. For the first three months, it aims to sell 20,000 units, Watanabe said at the launch in Tokyo.

Japanese carmakers are struggling to spark interest in new cars at home, where vehicle sales, excluding 660cc minivehicles, have fallen every month for more than two years.

Executives declined to say what impact they expected on Toyota from a broad labor strike against General Motorsin the United States. Toyota's unionized 50-50 joint venture plant with GM in California has not been affected by the strike.

The United Auto Workers began a nationwide strike against GM on Monday for the first time in 37 years after a 10-week round of contract talks stalled.

The two-day-old strike has spilled across borders, threatening production in Mexico and shutting down Canadian plants, even as the two sides resumed bargaining in Detroit.