Toyota Ends 3-Month U.S. Drop. Asian Brands Add Share

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's second-largest carmaker, boosted U.S. sales in October to snap a three-month decline, helping Asian automakers grab a larger share of the market.

Toyota's Tundra full-size pickup and Prius hybrid helped raise sales 4.5 percent over a year earlier. Nissan Motor Co. led the increases among Japanese brands with a 13 percent gain.

`` Toyota's sales were really fueled by some of their hot- selling cars doing even better,'' said Jesse Toprak, director of analysis at in Santa Monica, California.

Gains announced yesterday by Toyota, Nissan and Honda Motor Co. pushed Japanese and South Korean carmakers' U.S. market share to 41.1 percent, up two percentage points. U.S.-based rivals lost ground at home, as declines by Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC offset a third straight monthly gain by General Motors Corp.

Asian brands' sales rose 6.5 percent, led by Nissan, Toyota and a 3.8 percent boost for Honda.

U.S. market share for GM, Ford and Chrysler slipped to 51.3 percent, a drop of 3.5 percentage points. GM said sales increased 3.4 percent, while Ford fell 9.3 percent for its 12th consecutive monthly drop and Chrysler sales slid 8.9 percent.

Industrywide U.S. sales grew 1.2 percent to 1.2 million light vehicles, the first monthly rise since May.


Toyota's sales rose to 197,592, buoyed by a 6.9 percent increase in demand for light trucks, the most among the top six automakers in U.S. sales, according to Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based Autodata Corp., which tracks industry sales.

A 51 percent gain for the gasoline-electric Prius and a 31 percent rise for the RAV4 sport-utility vehicle helped Toyota add sales. The Toyota City, Japan-based company said sales of the redesigned Tundra pickup rose 78 percent to 17,868.

``It's a new vehicle, and Toyota is spending a lot of money on incentives and marketing and doing whatever it takes to establish the Tundra and grab market share,'' Toprak said.

Toyota offered incentives totaling $3,436 to promote the Tundra, ``a level not seen before'' from Japan's largest automaker, Toprak said. Among pickup trucks, Chrysler's Dodge Ram had the biggest incentive package in October, at $5,873, he said.

Toyota maintained its No. 2 position in the U.S., behind GM, after passing Ford in year-to-date sales in August. Its U.S. market share was 16 percent, compared with 15.8 percent for Ford, according to Autodata.

Toyota's shares fell 2.4 percent to 6,590 yen as of 9:32 a.m. in Tokyo trading.

Honda, Nissan

Honda sold 114,799 vehicles in October, led by a 31 percent increase for the Accord sedan. Tokyo-based Honda's eighth- generation Accord debuted Sept. 12. Japan's second-largest automaker also reported record sales of Odyssey minivans and Fit small cars. Sales fell for Honda trucks, paced by a 29 percent decline for the Pilot SUV and a 25 percent drop for Ridgeline pickups, according to Autodata. Honda's Acura unit posted a 19 percent slide in sales.

Honda's market share rose to 9.3 percent, up two-tenths of a point, and it retained the No. 5 spot in the U.S. market.

Nissan sold 84,947 vehicles, helped by its Versa compact and Altima sedan, to rank sixth in U.S. sales.

Nissan's Infiniti G sedan and coupe rose by more than 30 percent each, the Tokyo-based company said. Its market share climbed to 6.9 percent, a gain of 0.7 percentage point.

Honda's shares fell 2.7 percent to 4,260 yen and Nissan's shares declined 3 percent to 1,339 yen in Tokyo.

Hyundai, Kia

Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's largest automaker, said sales declined 0.8 percent in October to 30,232 vehicles. Its market share was unchanged at 2.5 percent.

``Hyundai is a bit of a puzzle,'' Toprak said. ``In an environment where consumers prefer small vehicles and they're looking for value, you'd think Hyundai would do better.''

By comparison Hyundai-controlled Kia Motors Corp. raised sales 25 percent to 25,185, led by gains for its Sportage SUV, Spectra sedan and Rondo wagon, the company said. Seoul-based Kia's market share improved to 2 percent from 1.7 percent a year ago.

Mazda Motor Corp., a Ford affiliate, increased sales 18 percent to 22,201 on a 36 percent jump in sales of Mazda3 small cars. Subaru, the auto brand of Toyota affiliate Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., said its sales fell 2.8 percent to 14,979.

Among smaller brands, Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said its sales fell 0.8 percent to 9,280 vehicles and Suzuki Motor Corp. had a 9.8 percent increase to 6,536 vehicles. Isuzu Motors Ltd., a Tokyo-based truckmaker, sold 576 pickups and SUVs, down 9.7 percent. ( Bloomberg )

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