Toyota Motor Sales USA’s December 2011 sales almost stagnant

Article by Anita Panait, on January 5, 2012

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. posted a 0.4% gain in year-on-year sales for December 2011, compared to 7% hike in sales for November 2011. The carmaker, however, sold more cars in December than any other month in 2011. The company’s sales were deeply hurt by low inventory levels since the March 11 Japanese earthquake.

The company, however, expects its inventories rebuild in the first quarter of this year.  Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., forecasts a 15% increase in sales to 1.9 million units for 2012 for Toyota, Scion and Lexus combined. The figure represents 13.9% market share with projected 13.6 million sales.

Toyota’s 2011 U.S. sales plummeted 7%, effectively decreasing the company’s market share in the country from 15.2% in 2010 to an estimated 12.9% in 2011. Lentz added the company will launch 19 “new and refreshed models” in 2012, and is prepared to be “bullish on the industry and 2012.”

Toyota’s luxury arm, Lexus, failed to keep its sales crown last year due to a 13% drop in sales. Lexus plans to launch nine new or redesigned vehicles this year and expects a 20% increase in sales, General Manager Mark Templin said.

When it comes to subcompact cars, the most successful in the U.S. would have to be the Toyota Corolla. Since the release of the first Corolla model way back in 1966, it is estimated that at least 30 million units of this model have been sold around the world. For the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show however, the company will be unveiling the 2011 Corolla, which boasts a redesigned interior and exterior and for both the front and the rear.

For this new version, the company will be offering three grades which are the base version, the LE, and the S. No matter what trim variant is chosen though, they are fitted with the same engine which is the four-cylinder 1.8-liter DOHC engine.

Power is at 132 hp coming in at 6,000 rpm with peak torque of 128 lb.-ft. at 4,400 rpm. To guarantee that both fuel economy and performance are optimized, the intake and exhaust camshafts are equipped with the Dual Variable Valve Timing that has intelligence controls, or VVT-i. In addition, to help lower fiction, a number of internal parts have been optimized.

Under the base version and the S variant, the engine will be paired with either the manual five-speed transmission or the automatic four-speed Electronically Controlled Transmission or ECT. The LE version though will have the ECT as standard. What makes the ECT excellent is that it makes use of the torque converter and since it has a flex lockup, improves the downhill/uphill shift control and helps better fuel efficiency.

Drivers who want an experience that is more engaging can manually change the shift by moving the position of the shift lever from the “D” to the “S” and then simply push it back for downshift and push forward for upshifts.

To determine what gear has been selected, there’s an indicator placed in its combination gauge. In terms of features, the 2011 Corolla will come with the Smart Stop Technology and it even has the complementary Toyota Care maintenance plan. For safety features, it will have the Toyota's Star Safety System, equipped as standard. These include the Anti-lock Braking System, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Traction Control, and Vehicle Stability Control.

It even has the brake-override Smart Stop Technology system as standard. On its exterior, the company said it will be offered in two new colors. The company said that sales of the 2011 Corolla are expected to begin by December.

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