3rd-straight gain despite Lexus drag

on Sep2

Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

DALLAS — Toyota Motor North America, behind stronger truck demand, posted a U.S. sales gain in August for the third-straight month despite some drag by its Lexus luxury division.

U.S. sales at the automaker rose by 6.8 percent to 227,625 units compared to the year-earlier month.

There was one more selling day in August compared to last year, but sales weakened in recent days as Hurricane Harvey hit South Texas.

The recent gains put the automaker’s sales down just 1.3 percent year-to-date compared with the same period in 2016, according to Toyota data.

At the Toyota division, sales rose 8 percent in August on the strength of booming light trucks and the combination of promotions on the outgoing 2017 Camry midsize sedan and improving availability of the redesigned 2018 Camry. Sales included a small number of units from the defunct Scion division.

“Though demand softened in the last part of the month, August was still a good month for the industry,” said Jack Hollis, general manager of the Toyota division. “As we launch our Camry marketing campaign today, we look forward to gaining even more momentum.”

Toyota just finished up a clearance event on outgoing model-year vehicles. Overall, Toyota Motor Corp.’s average new-vehicle incentive rose 19 percent to $2,876 last month compared to August 2016, ALG estimates.

U.S. sales of the RAV4 compact crossover jumped 30 percent in August and surpassed 40,000 units for the second month in a row. The RAV4 has taken over the Camry as Toyota’s best-selling model in the U.S. this year as consumers switch from cars to light trucks.

Sales of the midsize Highlander crossover rose 26 percent and the Sienna minivan posted a rare gain — 5.6 percent.

The Tacoma midsize pickup saw a sales bump of 13 percent last month while deliveries of the the full-size Tundra rose 4.5 percent.

Camry sales increased 13 percent last month after sliding for most of the year, Toyota said. The subcompact Yaris iA sedan and Yaris hatchback saw combined sales rise 36 percent while the Corolla sedan and hatchback slipped 14 percent.

At Lexus, which has struggled to sell its sedans this year while its light trucks remain strong, overall sales fell in August by just 0.4 percent, helped along by a major sales event.

“Customers took advantage of our Golden Opportunity Event and we were pleased to see Lexus sedans gain momentum for the month of August, most notably the ES,” said Jeff Bracken, general manager of the brand.

“We also saw a sales increase for the NX and GX luxury utility vehicles. As new 2018 models begin to roll in, we expect strong sales as we head toward the end of the year.”

Sales of the NX compact crossover rose 2 percent and sales of the GX midsize SUV gained 34 percent last month, the company said. The best-selling RX crossover posted a 7.1 percent gain,

The ES sedan saw sales increase 9.7 percent. The IS sedan, RC coupe and GS sedan all posted big double-digit drops. Sales of the outgoing 2017 LS flagship sedan fell 9.6 percent. The redesigned model will go on sales early next year.

Year-to-date sales at the Toyota division were off just 0.2 percent compared with the same period last year while Lexus sales were down 8 percent.

Incentive spending at the Toyota stable of brands, including Lexus and now-defunct Scion, rose 19 percent compared to August of last year to an estimated $2,876 per unit on average, according to ALG. That was practically unchanged since July of this year.

Average incentive spending per unit in August for the industry as a whole was $3,799, up 13 percent since the year-earlier month and up 4.4 percent since July of this year.

Among the 12 major auto brands in the U.S., Toyota’s incentive spending per unit was only higher than Honda and Subaru, according to ALG.

Toyota’s incentive spending as a percentage of the average transaction price was only higher than Honda, Subaru and Daimler among the top automakers, ALG said.

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