US: Toyota plans production boost
Toyota plans to increase production for the US market by about 65,000 vehicles after truck inventories dipped too low and demand showed signs of stabilising, executives have said.
"We're seeing some optimism in the market," local chief Bob Carter told Reuters.
The automaker's sales dropped almost 32% in June and it lost almost a full percentage point of market share, falling to 15.3% but sales of its light trucks and SUVs held up better than car sales, declining just 27% in June compared with almost 37% for cars.
Carter told Reuters there were signs of easier access to credit by consumers, along with other economic indicators that pointed to stronger demand for new cars and trucks in the second half of this year.
Toyota has forecast the US market will see sales of about 10m vehicles this year, up from the 9.5m-unit pace of the first quarter and from about 9.7m in just-completed second quarter.
Toyota has consequently increased planned production of light trucks such as the Sienna minivan, RAV4 SUV, Tacoma small pickup and Tundra full-size pickup as well as the Camry and Corolla passenger cars, Carter said.
Efforts to reduce US dealer inventories succeeded in reducing stock to a 40-day supply overall, Carter said. "That's our target," he said. "But we're a little lighter on the light truck side than we'd like to be." He said Toyota had just a 20-day supply of RAV4 SUVs at the end of June.
These are now built for North America in a new plant in Canada.
Most of the increased production for Toyota's US dealers would come from its North American factories and will be delivered over the summer months, executives told the news agency.
Ford, which battles Toyota for the No. 2 position in US sales, is preparing to produce about 16% more vehicles in North America in the third quarter than it did last year.
Toyota's third-generation Prius hybrid, which recently went on sale in the United States, has less than 10 days supply of inventory, making it a sold-out success, Reuters noted. Sales of the new model were up 11% year on year in June.