Light truck sales boosted Toyota US sales to a 1.8% growth for April 2015

Article by Andrew Christian, on May 5, 2015

Toyota’s U.S. sales in April 2015 went up 1.8% even with declining car sales because of the high demand for light trucks. Toyota Division sold 173,144 units for a 1.2% increase. Meanwhile, Toyota-brand car sales decreased by 5.5% while light truck volume grew 9.6%. From January to April 2015, Toyota Division sold a total of 659,606 units, a 7.7% growth.

Setting their best April sales records were the RAV4 compact (21.7% jump) and Highlander midsize (10% rise) crossovers. Meanwhile, 4Runner volume surged 18%. In addition, Toyota pickups were in high demand. A 4.5% increase in sales was seen for the full-size Tundra while a 13% gain was recorded for the Tacoma midsize truck.

Toyota Division general manager Bill Fay said that its truck models had lean inventories and so its sales were lower than it should have been. This prompted Toyota to make adjustments to its production plan before the arrival of summer.

In a conference call, Fay said that it felt the impact of a tight inventory and so it had to adjust its production mix so that it would have a bigger number of light trucks available in the next two months. Fay added that Toyota will launch this month its national advertising campaign dubbed “Toyota Time.”

In this campaign (its second for the year), Toyota offers low interest rate and lease deals that differ by region on an assortment of nameplates. He also said that the Camry midsize sedan and Prius hybrid will now qualify for its 0% financing promo for 60 months. Sales of these two nameplates fell last month.

Camry volume decreased by 10% while Prius had a 15% drop. As gasoline prices still remained low, American buyers continued to shift towards SUVs, crossovers and pickups. Toyota passenger car sales did very poorly.

The only models that posted gains last month were the Corolla, Yaris and Scion tC models. Scion sales declined by a combined 20% while Lexus had a 12% growth with 25,876 units sold last month.

From the start of the year to date, Lexus deliveries have increased by 17% to 103,056 units, earning it the third rank in the luxury sales arena. Mercedes-Benz is on top while BMW took second place during the first four months of 2015.

The 3,421 units sold of the new NX small crossover helped in boosting light truck sales, which grew by 24%. The NX aided in offsetting a 16% decrease in Lexus’ RX crossover demand, the brand’s top-selling model, yet it also was a factor in the RX’s weakening.

In a conference call, Jeff Bracken, general manager of the Lexus Division, said that the NX led to a “little bit of cannibalization.”

He said that Lexus took away some of the advertising budget of the RX to promote IS and GS sedan sales. The demand for the RX in early April suffered due to the unveiling of the redesigned RX crossover at the New York auto show.

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