Tag Archive | "Toyota Motor Corp."

Toyota Edges Toward Cooperation


Toyota Motor Corp. has a tradition of self-reliance. Chief Executive Officer Akio Toyoda is beginning to change that.

Toyoda agreed this month to equip some Toyota cars with Bayerische Motoren Werke AG diesel engines, building on an earlier deal to use Tesla Motors Inc. battery packs in future electric vehicles. Before the grandson of the founder became president, Toyota had not purchased such core technologies from other carmakers, said Shiori Hashimoto, a spokeswoman at the Toyota City-based carmaker.

The alliances illustrate how Toyoda is shaking up decades-old practices at Japan’s largest manufacturer, which is poised to cede its three-year lead in the global automotive industry to General Motors Co. The company is emerging from three years of crisis management — from millions of vehicles recalled to coping with Japan’s biggest postwar natural disaster, according to The Detroit News.

“They have a high need for control, because they want a high level of confidence things will be delivered on time,” said Jeff Liker, an engineering professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor specializing in Toyota research. “When you go outside the family, there’s some risk. Akio is willing to take that risk.”

The worldwide recalls in 2009 and 2010 created an opportunity to push changes in Toyota’s corporate culture, Liker said. The CEO likely “came to the conclusion Toyota has grown too insular in Japan, that it needed to open up more, get more access to the outside world,” he said.

Toyoda has reason to drive change. The company forecasts profit will fall to 1 percent of revenue this fiscal year, Toyota’s second-lowest margin, based on data compiled by Bloomberg stretching back to 1992.

At its height in the mid 2000s, the carmaker was generating margins of almost 7 percent. The stock is down about 70 percent from its peak in February 2007.

“Toyota used to be able to grow simply by manufacturing the cars it made best, but now it needs to make gasoline and diesel cars, hybrids and electric vehicles,” said Mitsushige Akino, who oversees about $600 million at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. in Tokyo. “If Toyota doesn’t reach out to other companies for help in technology, they won’t be able to sustain market share.”

Under this month’s agreement, Toyota will equip some of its European models with BMW engines starting in 2014 to gain market share in the region, where most cars run on diesel.

Toyota’s share of European auto sales was 3.8 percent this year through October, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. By comparison, Toyota’s U.S. share was 12.7 percent through November, according to Autodata Corp., based in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

In May 2010, Toyota agreed to use Tesla’s lithium-ion battery pack and motor on its RAV4 sport-utility vehicle starting early next year. Toyoda said at the time that he hoped the partnership would also inspire Toyota workers to adopt the “venture business” spirit of Tesla.

The BMW and Tesla deals differ from previous partnerships because Toyota is the recipient of another company’s technology, Hashimoto, the Toyota spokeswoman, said. In previous deals such as a project to develop a hybrid system for trucks with Ford Motor Co., and others with GM, Aston Martin and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.’s Subaru, Toyota either provided or co-developed technologies, she said.

Only the BMW accord is likely to yield direct benefits for the Japanese carmaker because the other agreements are “small, isolated deals,” said Maryann Keller, an auto analyst and president at Maryann Keller & Associates.

The project with Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, for example, isn’t likely to change Toyota’s management practices because “you cannot change a corporate culture simply by working with a company that’s 3,000 miles away,” she said.

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Toyota Aims for Record Sales in 2012


TOKYO — Toyota is aiming for a comeback, targeting record global sales of 8.48 million vehicles in 2012 and an even bigger number in 2013, after being battered this year by the March disaster in Japan and flooding in Thailand.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s top automaker, relinquished its title as the world’s biggest in global vehicle sales for the first half of this year, sinking to No. 3 behind U.S. rival General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG of Germany, reported msnbc.com.

Toyota’s global vehicle sales for this year totaled 7.9 million vehicles, including group companies, down 6 percent from the previous year, it said in a statement Thursday.

General Motors Co. spokesman Jim Cain said it will release its full-year global sales totals in January.

The Detroit-based automaker had been at the top for more than seven decades until Toyota took the crown in 2008.

After the first three quarters, GM sold 6.788 million vehicles worldwide, according to its filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. If fourth-quarter results are consistent with prior months, it will sell just more than 9 million vehicles in 2011. Last year, GM sold 8.39 million vehicles around the world.

Volkswagen also has not released its 2011 tally but said earlier this month it delivered 7.51 million vehicles globally during the January-November period.

Toyota’s targets for 2012 and 2013 do not include group companies such as Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors, and so aren’t directly comparable with numbers from GM and Volkswagen.

Toyota said its sales target for calendar 2012 is based on achieving 20 percent growth from its global sales this year and would be a record high for the company, underlining its turnaround ambitions.

The automaker’s current sales record of 8.43 million vehicles was attained in 2007.

“It won’t be a surprise to me if Toyota reaches a new record in global sales,” said Mamoru Katou, auto analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research. Hybrids remain popular in Japan, the Camry sedan is doing well in the U.S. and demand is robust in emerging markets, he said.

Toyota has been making up for sales declines in North America and Japan with momentum in relatively new but booming markets such as China and India.

The manufacturer of the Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models said it plans to sell 8.95 million vehicles around the world in 2013, not including group companies.

Toyota said it had not yet figured out forecasts for the group companies. It is possible the target might exceed 9 million vehicles, had they been included.

Targeted overseas sales of 6.95 million vehicles this year, up 19 percent year-on-year, would also be a new record for Toyota, if attained.

Toyota acknowledged many uncertainties, which could push the numbers in either direction. One possible plus is the extension of Japanese government incentives for green vehicles, according to Toyota.

Toyota, with its strong hybrid lineup, has been a major beneficiary of such incentives.

Still, Toyota has gone through some hard times lately.

The global financial crisis in 2008 was behind a serious sales plunge in the key North American market.

Then came massive recalls, mostly in the U.S., that tarnished Toyota’s once pristine reputation for quality amid speculation it had not been as forthright as it should have been about defects.

Toyota was on a gradual recovery track when the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck in northeastern Japan, damaging suppliers and disrupting production because of a severe parts shortage.

Production got slammed again later in the year, although on a smaller scale, from flooding in Thailand.

Toyota also said it expects to produce 8.65 million vehicles next year, up 24 percent from 6.97 million this year. It expects to produce 8.98 million vehicles in 2013, it said. Those numbers do not include group companies.

Michael Robinet, managing director of IHS Automotive Consultants in Northville, Michigan, said a global sales lead doesn’t matter as much as how much money the company makes per vehicle, its model portfolio and overall profit.

A difference of several tens of thousands of vehicles is not significant for automakers that sell millions of vehicles like Toyota and GM, he said.

“It doesn’t matter all that much when you’re already in the 9 million to 10 million unit range,” Robinet said.

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Toyota Vehicle Sales May Rise 20 Percent on Recovery From Disasters


Toyota Motor Corp. said its vehicle sales may rise the most in at least 12 years in 2012 as Asia’s biggest carmaker recovers from production disruptions caused by Japan’s March earthquake and Thailand’s record flooding.

The maker of Prius hybrid cars may boost global deliveries 20 percent to 8.48 million vehicles from an estimated 7.05 million in 2011, it said in a statement today. The forecast excludes Toyota’s Hino Motors Ltd. and Daihatsu Motor Co. units according to Bloomberg.

Toyota, poised to lose its crown as the world’s biggest automaker this year to General Motors Co., aims to recover market share lost after natural disasters disrupted its supply chain, causing parts shortages that shuttered factories and left car dealers short of inventory. The strong yen, which is reducing Toyota’s export earnings, and slowing economic growth in the U.S. and China may hamper its efforts.

“The sales forecast is much higher than I expected, and to be honest, I doubt they can achieve the target,” Kohei Takahashi, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co., said today by phone. “The yen has gotten much stronger and they won’t be able to make any profit exporting cars.”

Global production may rise 24 percent next year to 8.65 million vehicles, of which 3.4 million will be built in Japan, Toyota said in today’s statement. Total output fell an estimated 9 percent to 6.97 million units this year, while vehicle sales dropped 6 percent, the carmaker said.

The projected sales increase for next year would be the biggest since at least 2000, Dion Corbett, a spokesman for Toyota, said today in an e-mail.

Declining sales and gains in the yen prompted the carmaker to cut its profit forecast by more than half for the fiscal year ending March 31. Net income for the 12 months ending March 31 may decrease 56 percent to 180 billion yen ($2.3 billion), the company said Dec. 9.

The reduced forecast came after Ford Motor Co. declared its first quarterly dividend since 2006 and Detroit-based GM boosted sales 9.2 percent in the first three quarters of 2011.

Toyota fell 0.9 percent to 2,488 yen as of 1:28 p.m. in Tokyo trading, extending a 23 percent drop this year. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 0.6 percent.

Toyota probably lost more output than any other carmaker because of the Thai floods, according to Masatoshi Nishimoto, a Tokyo-based senior manager at research firm IHS Automotive.

The automaker is set to introduce a plug-in version of its Prius, the world’s best-selling hybrid, in Japan next month and in the U.S. in March.

Toyota’s November U.S. vehicle sales rose for the first time in seven months as supply at dealers recovered and consumer confidence in the world’s largest economy surged the most in more than eight years.

The Japanese currency has gained 4 percent against the U.S. dollar this year and traded at 78.05 as of 1:44 p.m. in Tokyo.

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Toyota Lowers Annual Profit Forecast After Thailand Floods


Toyota Motor Corp., poised to lose its crown as the world’s largest carmaker this year, cut its profit forecast 54 percent after Thailand’s worst floods in almost 70 years disrupted production.

Net income will fall to $2.3 billion in the 12 months ending March 31, the Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker said in a statement. That’s lower than its previous forecast and misses the 393 billion yen average of 21 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The company also cut projections for operating profit and sales, reported The Detroit News.

The Thai floods led to component shortages worldwide, disrupting output of Camry and Corolla sedans at plants as far away as the U.S. That compounded the challenges faced by Japanese carmakers in a year marred by the record earthquake and tsunami in March, as well as the surge in the yen.

“While Toyota is gradually building up inventory of its new Camry sedans and its popular models, sales haven’t entered a recovery phase yet,” said Issei Takahashi, a Tokyo-based analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG. “It will probably be after February that Toyota’s sales will begin recovering.”

Toyota fell 0.4 percent in Tokyo trading before the company released its forecasts. The stock has fallen 18 percent this year, underperforming Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average.

Toyota delayed the new projections by a month because of the floods. Honda Motor Co., which also pushed back its forecasts because of Thailand, aims to disclose them by the end of January, Chief Financial Officer Fumihiko Ike said last week.

By contrast, Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s second-largest carmaker, last month raised its profit forecast after its vehicle sales in China rose and the company recovered faster than Toyota and Honda from the earthquake.

The maker of the Camry sedan cut its forecast for operating profit 56 percent to 200 billion yen, meaning the company will probably earn less profit than Nissan for the third time in four years. The forecast missed the 405 billion yen average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg.

The company, likely to cede its three-year reign as the world’s biggest carmaker to General Motors Co. in 2011, also cut its sales forecast to 7.38 million vehicles from an earlier projection of 7.6 million.

In Thailand, the floods created a second wave of factory disruptions for Japanese carmakers such as Toyota, which had taken six months to restore production hobbled by Japan’s March 11 natural disaster.

Disruptions from Oct. 10 to Nov. 25 caused 215,000 vehicles in lost production, or 2.8 percent of the annual target. By comparison, Nissan estimates its lost production at 60,000 units, or 1.3 percent of its targeted annual production worldwide.

Toyota probably lost more output than any other carmaker because of the floods, said Masatoshi Nishimoto, a Tokyo-based senior manager at research firm IHS Automotive. Toyota may not be able to make up for lost production of models such as the Vigo SUV until September because the company had procured about 90 percent of the vehicle’s parts from Thailand and won’t easily find alternate suppliers, Nishimoto said.

Toyota revised its outlook for the yen against the dollar to 78 from 80. The stronger domestic currency reduces the value of overseas sales.

GM and South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. have benefited while their Japanese rivals struggled. Detroit-based GM’s vehicle sales are poised to overtake Toyota’s this year and analysts estimate Hyundai will earn $6.2 billion in profit during 2011, more than double Toyota’s.

Still, President Akio Toyoda is aiming to regain lost market share from 2012. At the Tokyo Motor Show last week, the grandson of the founder showed off the company’s new 86 coupe, betting the car will widen Toyota’s appeal.

The automaker also displayed a plug-in version of its best- selling Prius hybrid that will go on sale from January. The Prius PHV will become a “winner” that will take sales from GM’s Chevrolet Volt, according to CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets analyst Chris Richter.

A recovery may already be under way in the U.S. Toyota’s November vehicle sales in the country rose for the first time in seven months as supply at dealers recovered and consumer confidence surged the most in more than eight years.

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Toyota Gains as U.S. Auto Sales Accelerate


Toyota Motor Corp., posting its first monthly sales increase since April, joined Chrysler Group LLC and Nissan Motor Co. in topping analysts’ estimates, leading to the best U.S. light-vehicle sales pace in more than two years.

Toyota deliveries rose 6.7 percent in November to 137,960 cars and light trucks, the Toyota City, Japan-based automaker said in a statement. Chrysler sales soared 45 percent to 107,172 and Nissan increased 19 percent to 85,182. Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co., boosted by demand for F-Series and Silverado pickups, also posted gains.

Four of the six largest automakers by U.S. sales beat expectations, boosting industry sales to a 13.6 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to Autodata Corp. The pace exceeded the 13.4 million average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg and is the best month since sales were helped by “cash for clunkers” in August 2009.

“Consumers have been waiting for this,” Jessica Caldwell, an analyst for the researcher Edmunds.com, said today in a phone interview. “Cars are getting old, and people are getting to the point where they need to replace them. There’s recession fatigue and people want to buy. We’re getting tired of being in this saving pattern.”

Sales of Toyota’s Prius hybrid rose 49 percent to 15,208, while deliveries of its Camry sedan climbed 13 percent to 23,440. The automaker exceeded five analysts’ average estimate for a 5 percent increase in November deliveries.

Chrysler, the automaker controlled by Fiat SpA, topped the 37 percent gain predicted by eight analysts as its Jeep brand sales rose 50 percent. Nissan deliveries exceeded five analysts’ average estimate for a 12 percent rise.

Ford sales rose 13 percent, beating estimates for a 10 percent increase, while GM’s gain of 6.9 percent missed estimates for a 7.4 percent gain, both the average of eight estimates. Ford’s F-Series pickup deliveries climbed 24 percent and GM’s Silverado sales increased 34 percent.

“You’re seeing some elements of housing stabilize, the commercial sector is showing a bit of growth, gas prices have moderated and there’s some support on those vehicles from an incentive standpoint,” Paul Ballew, chief economist for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., said in a phone interview.

Ford plans to build 675,000 cars and trucks in 2012’s first quarter, a 3 percent increase from the year-earlier period, according to a company statement. Ford’s sport-utility vehicle sales climbed 29 percent, while car deliveries fell 8.8 percent, with the Focus declining for a fifth-consecutive month.

“We’re moving away from cars because we are finding crossovers that exceed our miles per gallon expectations,” Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with researcher IHS Automotive, said in a phone interview. “We’ve discovered we don’t have to compromise on space to get fuel economy. The Explorer and Escape are perfect examples.”

Sales for Honda Motor Co., Japan’s third-largest automaker, missed estimates, dropping 6.4 percent to 83,925 in November, the company said in a statement on its website. The automaker cited reduced production at North American plants resulting from floods in Thailand that disrupted parts supply. Analysts expected Tokyo-based Honda to report a 2.6 percent increase, the average of five estimates.

Toyota’s inventories are recovering from Thailand’s floods and the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Bob Carter, vice president of U.S. sales, said today in a conference call.

“We’re confident our volumes and our share will recover throughout 2012,” Carter said.

Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea’s largest automaker, and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp., combined to sell 29 percent more vehicles than a year earlier, beating three analysts’ average estimate for a 24 percent increase. Kia’s Optima sedan sales surged more than sixfold to 9,533.

Consumers spent a record $52.4 billion during the holiday weekend, excluding autos, according to the National Retail Federation. Consumer confidence surged in November by the most in more than eight years, and the portion of consumers planning to buy a new vehicle within six months climbed to the highest since April, data from The Conference Board showed Nov. 29.

“We’re encouraged by the industry’s recent performance and the developments that we’ve seen in the economy,” Don Johnson, vice president of U.S. sales, said on a conference call. The Conference Board’s figures “drives even more support for our belief in the continued growing of the U.S. economy next year.”

GM’s inventory of full-size pickups rose on a selling-day basis to 105 days as of Nov. 30, from 104 days at the end of October, the Detroit-based automaker said today in a statement. Full-size truck supply was 202,720 at the end of November, from 207,596 as of Oct. 31.

Ford’s sales accelerated through the end of the month, culminating with the best results the day after Thanksgiving, which retailers call “Black Friday,” said Ken Czubay, Ford’s U.S. sales chief.

“The dealers enjoyed the same uplift that the other merchants enjoyed,” Czubay said today on a conference call.

GM fell 1.6 percent to $20.96 at the close in New York. Ford fell less than 0.1 percent to $10.59.

Chrysler’s deliveries of its 200 midsize sedan increased to 8,065 in November, almost six times the year-earlier sales of the Sebring model that it replaced, the company said in a statement. Sales of Nissan’s Rogue compact SUV rose 27 percent to 10,845, according to an e-mailed statement. Volkswagen AG’s U.S. sales unit said deliveries of its VW brand surged 41 percent to 28,412, boosted by demand for its Passat sedan.

U.S. light-vehicle sales exceeded a 13 million annualized rate for the third consecutive month as Toyota and Honda inventories recover from Japan’s tsunami in March, which disrupted auto-parts supply and vehicle output. The sales pace failed to exceed 12.2 million in the prior four months.

Industrywide car inventory rebounded to 53 days supply at the beginning of November, from 43 days a month earlier, according to LMC Automotive. That’s the biggest sequential increase since February, said Jeff Schuster, a Troy, Michigan- based analyst.

“It looks like the close of the month was definitely a strong one and it’s setting up a positive story for the industry as the year closes,” Schuster said today in a phone interview.

The U.S. averaged annual sales of 16.8 million vehicles from 2000 to 2007, according to Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based Autodata. Deliveries may rise about 9.5 percent to 12.7 million cars and light trucks this year, the average of 18 analysts’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey in August.

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Toyota Wins Right to Pursue Appeal in Sudden Acceleration Suits


Toyota Motor Corp. won approval to proceed with its appeal of a judge’s ruling that allowed plaintiffs who hadn’t had problems with sudden unintended acceleration of their vehicles to seek economic damages for the alleged defect.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco, in a Nov. 15 order, granted Toyota permission to appeal the decision by the federal judge who oversees the consolidated lawsuits that were brought against the carmaker following a series of recalls starting in 2009, according to Bloomberg.

U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, California, said in July that Toyota could immediately challenge part of his May decision rejecting the company’s bid to dismiss the suits. Toyota could seek to appeal his ruling granting “standing,” or the right to sue, to certain vehicle owners, Selna said.

The appeal would focus on the issue “of whether each plaintiff must allege that he or she has experienced a manifestation of the product’s alleged defect in order to allege that he or she suffered an injury,” Selna said at the time. “An immediate appeal” of the standing ruling “will materially advance the ultimate termination of this litigation,” he said.

The Toyota owners contend the company drove down the value of their vehicles by failing to disclose or fix defects related to sudden acceleration. Selna said in May that car owners who hadn’t experienced incidents had met pleading standards to claim losses.

Celeste Migliore, a spokeswoman for Toyota Motor Sales USA in Torrance, California, said in an e-mailed statement that the carmaker looked forward to presenting its arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

“We firmly believe that individuals whose Toyota vehicles have operated every day without incident do not have standing under the U.S. Constitution to seek money damages from Toyota in federal court,” she said. “This common sense proposition is backed by extensive case law.”

Steve Berman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, didn’t immediately return a call to his office yesterday seeking comment on the ruling.

The cases are combined as In re Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, 8:10-ml-02151, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

The appellate case is Certain Economic Loss Plaintiffs v. Toyota, 11-80187, U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).

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