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Will Toyota Brand Wind Up #3 in the U.S.?

Two thirds of the way through the year, the Toyota brand finds itself in an unusual spot in the U.S. It's #3 behind Chevy and Ford. The Japanese brand could still close the gap and catch Chevy for #2, but I don't see it catching Ford for top brand honors.

Here's how the numbers break down this year:

  1. Ford: 1,155,713
  2. Chevy: 1,052,773
  3. Toyota: 1,018,664

Compare that with how the brands finished last year:

  1. Toyota: 1.55 million
  2. Ford: 1.44 million
  3. Chevy: 1.33 million

Toyota's slide to third isn't surprising given the recall mess earlier this year.

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Getty Images

Any buyers who were thinking of jumping over to Toyota and even a slice of current Toyota owners were spooked out of buying the Japanese brand. Yes, the company limited the damage by throwing out big incentives earlier this year. Still, the damage was done. Now the question is what are the lingering effects the recalls are having on Toyota sales months later?

It's clear there is still an overhang. But in my opinion a bigger issue weighing on Toyota is a line-up that lacks new models generating buzz. Yes, Toyota has steadily updated its current models, but it has not brought out a brand new model in some time.

Meanwhile, Ford has been pushing the new Fiesta and its refreshed versions of the Taurus and Fusion are convincing buyers to take another look at the blue oval.

You can argue being the top selling brand is a bragging rights title that doesn't carry as much weight as it once did. Perhaps. Still, two-thirds of the way through this year, the fact is Toyota trails Ford by 135,000 vehicles after beating Ford by 110,000 sales last year. That's a swing of almost a quarter million sales, Toyota would dearly love to have back.

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