It is hard to imagine an auto company going through a more challenging start of the year than Toyota .
And yet, April auto sales show the company is weathering the storm far better than most expected.
Yes, it's lost market share (largely because Ford has picked it up with a sensational start to 2010) but when you look at how Toyota's most successful models are selling you see a company holding on to buyers:
What do these numbers tell us?
All four were in the headlines in January and February as part of two high profile recalls that not only had people questioning the reliability of Toyota's, but their safety as well.
In fact, Toyota suspended sales of the Corolla, Camry and Rav4 in later January.
In short, there was a huge red X on these models. And yes, sales of all four dropped in February.
But since then, the combination of aggressive marketing, hefty incentives, and brand loyalty helped stem the tide for Toyota.
This also speaks volumes about how much brand loyalty built up over the last three decades are helping the Japanese automaker hang on to its core customers. As I've said for some time, the overwhelming majority of Toyota owners in this country have not had a problem with their car or SUV, so for them the recalls were a concern worth noting, but not game changing events.
Toyota's competitors know this as well.
It explains why some executives from the big three have told me they don't see Toyota slowing down. Yes, it's taken a major hit, but it's not knocked out. For every joke on late night TV about runaway Toyota's, there are people who laughed, and then went out and bought a new Toyota.
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