Toyota Scrambles to Meet Camry Demand

Toyota’s U.S. light-vehicle sales totaled 129,482 last month, 16.1% less than like-2010 and 106 units fewer than Chrysler’s August tally. Toyota’s result improves on its 19.7% slide in July.

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Toyota Scrambles to Meet Camry Demand


Toyota has pulled ahead by some two weeks the on-sale date of its redesigned-for-’12 Toyota Camry midsize car.

Dealers now can expect deliveries by mid-month as the sell-down of ’11 Camrys is running “extremely well,” Randy Pflughaupt, group-vice president-sales, tells journalists during a teleconference to outline Toyota’s August sales performance.

Toyota’s U.S. light-vehicle sales totaled 129,482 last month, 16.1% less than like-2010 and 106 units fewer than Chrysler’s August tally, according to WardsAuto data.

Days’ supply for the Camry, reigning best-seller in the U.S. car market, was 16.

Toyota has been challenged to meet demand for many of its products since March 11, when its home country, Japan, was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami.

The disasters not only crimped finished-vehicle exports, it played havoc with the auto maker’s supply chain.

Though Toyota’s U.S. stock count of 173,178 vehicles translates to a days’ supply of 35, well under the industry benchmark of 60, Pflughaupt expects the auto maker’s fourth-quarter inventory will be “comparable” to like-2010’s pre-disaster range.

“(Levels) might be a little bit into the first quarter of next year before we see inventories essentially at prior-year levels,” he adds.

Dealers can expect mid-month delivery of ’12 Toyota Camry.

Toyota’s U.S. arm had expected to take delivery of some 36,000 Prius hybrid sedans by Aug. 31, but the auto maker suggests it did not do so. Asked if the target was achieved, Plughaupt says Toyota is “on pace” with that number.

‘The Prius flow is very good,” he adds.

The all-time best-seller among hybrids accounted for 9,491 deliveries in August, a 22.7% shortfall from like-2010.

Lexus’ U.S. chief Mark Templin says his division was the most vulnerable to output disruptions because all but one of the brand’s models are assembled in Japan.

However, “availability is not an issue at all,” Templin says, noting production has been substantially increased at the auto maker’s plant in Woodstock, ON, Canada.

The site produces the RX 350, the lone Lexus assembled outside Japan. August sales of the iconic cross/utility vehicle lagged like-2010 by 11.7%.

Sales of Toyota’s bread-and-butter Camry slipped 3.0% to 29,867, excluding hybrid models, which are slated for an October production launch at Toyota’s plant in Georgetown, KY.

Toyota’s August result improves on its 19.7% slide in July, as well as big losses in June and May, signaling the auto maker’s production ramp-up from the March 11 earthquake could be taking hold and giving it more product to sell.

So far this year, Toyota’s sales are down 7.8% to 1.1 million units.

The only vehicles playing in positive sales territory for Toyota last month were the Toyota Highlander, up 4.7% to 7,821 units; the Toyota Land Cruiser, gaining 13.4% to 135 deliveries; the Toyota Tacoma, ahead 1.0% to 8,650; and the Lexus GS450 Hybrid, up 9% on scant 17 units.

WardsAuto data is adjusted for selling days. The industry saw 26 selling days last month, one more than year-ago.

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