Tag Archive | "Toyota"

Toyota Accelerates Rollout of Fuel-Cell Cars

Toyota Motor Corp. on Wednesday accelerated plans to introduce its first hydrogen-powered car, saying it now would begin selling a sedan in less than a year at a price of about $70,000, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Toyota had previously said it would roll out the car “around 2015” at a price of up to $100,000. On Wednesday, the auto maker said it would begin sales in Japan by March 2015 as the Japanese government seeks to boost the economy through the development of hydrogen fuel-cell technology.

While a number of auto makers are developing fuel-cell cars, Toyota has been one of the foremost champions of the technology as a way to reduce harmful greenhouse-gas emissions. Unlike battery-powered electric vehicles, which can require a lengthy recharge, fuel-cell cars can be refueled in minutes—assuming drivers can find one of the handful of hydrogen stations that are currently in operation.

Honda Motor Co. has said it plans to begin selling a fuel-cell car next year. Hyundai Motor Co. of South Korea this month began limited sales of a hydrogen-powered sport-utility vehicle in California.

Toyota executives acknowledge that significant hurdles need to be cleared before fuel-cell vehicles become a viable option for mass-market consumers.

For now, there are only a handful of refueling stations, in places like Japan and California. But Toyota, the world’s largest auto maker by volume, hopes that by making a strong statement of support for the fledgling technology it can help stimulate development.

Toyota and rival makers of gasoline-powered vehicles also are under pressure to meet regulatory demands in California and other markets to sell zero-emission cars, and their battery-electric cars have had minimal sales. Fuel-cell vehicles will help Toyota earn credits under California and U.S. regulations that will allow the company to sell fuel-hungry sport-utility vehicles and large cars without penalties.

“We want to demonstrate how serious we are,” said Mitsuhisa Kato, a Toyota executive vice president, at a news conference here on Wednesday.

The company, which displayed a concept version of its fuel-cell vehicle, called FCV, at the Tokyo Motor Show last year, showed what it described as the finished exterior design on Wednesday. The bright blue car sported two large front grilles, which let in air that reacts with the hydrogen in the fuel cell to produce water and energy to power the car.

At $70,000, the FCV would cost significantly more than some battery-powered electric cars or hybrid electric-gasoline fueled vehicles, though it would start at about the $71,000 price of an entry-level battery-powered Tesla Model S.

On Tuesday, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced plans to promote fuel-cell technology as part of its strategy for economic growth, saying it would provide subsidies for the sale of the cars and for the development of hydrogen fueling stations.

The government hasn’t announced the size of the subsidies, and Mr. Kato said he doesn’t know yet either. Japan currently provides about $300 million a year in subsidies for vehicles powered by alternative fuels, which can shave around $10,000 off the price of a $30,000 electric vehicle.

A proportionally comparable amount would bring the price of Toyota’s FCV down to less than $50,000.

Such subsidies can shift pricing “from an extremely expensive vehicle to one that somewhat resembles a mass-production vehicle,” said Kurt Sanger, an analyst at Deutsche Bank. “But even at that price range, the user of a new engine technology with limited refueling infrastructure is not your next-door neighbor.”

To try to speed up the introduction of fuel-cell cars, the Japanese government has pledged about $70 million in subsidies for the installation of 100 hydrogen refueling stations across Japan by the end of next year. California has a similar subsidy program to build the stations.

Without easier access to hydrogen, consumers are unlikely to buy such vehicles, officials acknowledge. But knowing that the cars are coming could create support for building the refueling stations, they add.

“It’s not a question of the chicken or the egg first,” said Chihiro Tobe, director of the hydrogen and fuel-cell promotion office of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. “They both have to move in tandem.”

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Dealership Buy/Sell Activity Jumps 60% in Q1

Irvine, CA — Kerrigan Advisors, a firm specializing in serving dealership sellers, released its quarterly report on dealership buy/sell activity in the U.S. Market. It found that such activity increased dramatically in the first quarter.

Laying out the high, average and low multiples for each franchise in the luxury and non-luxury segments for the quarter, the Kerrigan Quarterly Blue Sky Report offers a detailed view of public and private company dealership acquisition activity. In addition to the sharp spike in selling, the report found that that blue sky pricing remains high for most franchises and that the market has established a pricing floor.

“As anticipated, an increase in the number of sellers coming to market has led to a major uptick in buy/sell activity,” said Erin Kerrigan, founder and managing director of Kerrigan Advisors. “We attribute this to high blue sky prices, buyer demand for dealerships and a slowdown in dealership profit growth, meaning sellers are concerned about missing the market and want to ensure they exit on top.

“Private companies continued to dominate the market in quarter one, although public company activity rose slightly during the quarter and will likely continue to pick up after the announcement of Lithia’s acquisition of DCH,” she added. “The publics, however, are being very disciplined with their capital allocation. If they believe the better investment is their own stock, they are choosing a stock buyback over an acquisition. In the first quarter, collectively, they chose to spend 70% more on their own stock than on U.S. acquisitions.”

The firm found that buy/sell activity increased 60% in the first quarter and that more sellers are coming to market to capitalize on high blue sky values that may fade as earning growth slows. Blue sky values remain at elevated levels as dealership earnings continue to grow, albeit more slowly; and multiples remain high or reach higher levels.

The multiples for Honda, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and Porsche have increased since 2013, the report noted. As competition for auto retail market share heats up, buyers are placing an even higher premium on these franchises. And with the average dealership earning an annual 28% return on equity, few dealers are willing to sell their franchises for less than a 3x blue sky multiple in today’s market.

“While the future continues to look rosy for dealership acquisitions, we will likely start to see some negative shifts as increasing competition for car sales brings blue sky winners and losers,” Kerrigan concluded.

To read the full report, click here.

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Toyota Plans 19% Boost in Director Pay After Record Profit

Via The Detroit News:

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest carmaker, plans to boost pay to directors by 19 percent for the last fiscal year after the company earned record profit.

Toyota proposed 1.52 billion yen ($14.9 million) in combined compensation and bonuses to 21 directors, including President Akio Toyoda, in a notice to shareholders Tuesday. The Toyota City, Japan-based company paid 1.28 billion yen the previous fiscal year.

After recording an unprecedented 1.82 trillion yen profit last fiscal year, Toyota forecast this month that net income will slip 2.4 percent in the year ending March 31. The company predicts deliveries to increase in every major region except Japan, where the nation’s first sales-tax increase in 17 years is expected to temper demand.

Toyota has proposed raising its year-end dividend to 100 yen a share, or 165 yen for the full year. The company also is buying back stock for the first time in five years. In March, it said it would repurchase as many as 60 million shares, equivalent to a 1.9 percent stake, for 360 billion yen.

By comparison, total pay for union workers increased 8.2 percent on average from last fiscal year.

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Toyota Forecasts Drop in Profit for Fiscal Year

Via NY Times

TOKYO — Toyota achieved a record annual profit and sales of more than 10 million vehicles for the first time, but on Thursday forecast a slower year ahead as the momentum from a weak yen fades.

Expenses like the $1.2 billion penalty that Toyota paid in a settlement with the United States Justice Department this year for hiding information about defects in its cars hurt its profit for the January-to-March quarter, the carmaker said.

Toyota, the world’s top-selling automaker, is forecasting a profit of 1.78 trillion yen ($17.5 billion) for the financial year ending in March 2015.

That is about 2 percent lower than the company recorded for the financial year that just ended, when its profit almost doubled to a record ¥1.82 trillion.

Annual sales rose 16 percent to ¥25.69 trillion, helped by a weak yen, which aids Japanese exporters, and thanks to growth in the United States, Europe, Japan and the rest of Asia.

Toyota says Japan sales were inflated in recent months as consumers rushed to buy before a tax increase that kicked in on April 1.

Toyota became the first automaker to sell more than 10 million vehicles in a 12-month period, with sales totaling 10.13 million vehicles around the world for the year that ended in March.

The company, maker of the Prius hybrid, Lexus luxury line and Camry sedan, is expecting solid growth to continue, hoping to sell 10.25 million vehicles globally for the year through March 2015.

Highlighting its ambitions, it noted that extra costs, including research and development expenses, as well as the United States penalty, were a factor in reducing its January-to-March profit to ¥297 billion from ¥313.9 billion a year earlier.

Toyota sold fewer vehicles in North America for the fourth quarter — 567,000 vehicles, compared with 603,000 vehicles in the same period the previous year.

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Toyota to Make More Camry Sedans in Kentucky

Via Bloomberg

Toyota Motor Corp. will crank up production of the Camry sedan, the top-selling U.S. car the last dozen years, at its Kentucky plant after it stops farming out some manufacturing to Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.

Toyota will move Camry production of about 100,000 units to Kentucky in the second half of 2016, it said today. The move will free up more capacity in Indiana for Tokyo-based Fuji Heavy, whose Subaru brand is on pace for a sixth consecutive annual sales record.

Making up for the lost Subaru capacity keeps Toyota in position to defend the model’s lead over Honda Motor Co.’s Accord, Nissan Motor Co.’s Altima and Ford Motor Co.’s Fusion. To fend off mounting competition, the world’s largest automaker is making styling changes midway through Camry’s typical five-year design cycle by introducing a restyled version with more contoured body panels and sportier handling.

“Every time I speak with Toyota people regarding Camry sales or Camry incentives, they always say ‘Camry is different; Camry is special,’” Kei Nihonyanagi, a Tokyo-based equity analyst for Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch, said by telephone. “Securing the No. 1 position in the U.S. is very important to Toyota.”

Camry’s U.S. deliveries have slipped 0.2 percent through the first four months of this year after rising 0.9 percent in 2013, when the car lost market share in the mid-size sedan segment to Accord, Altima and Fusion.

Subaru SUVs

Fuji Heavy, which counts Toyota as its largest shareholder, plans to enhance its product lineup with a focus on sport utility vehicles. Chief Executive Officer Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said today the company plans to introduce a new SUV that will be exclusive to the North American market and may build the model at its plant in Lafayette, Indiana, after Camry production there ceases.

Even after Fuji Heavy’s production of Camry for Toyota ends, the two companies plan to continue work on clean energy technologies including plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles during the mid-term, Yoshinaga told reporters today. Fuji Heavy also produced the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 sports cars that the two jointly developed in Japan.

The maker of Subaru Outback wagons and Forester SUVs separately today forecast net income will increase 4.1 percent to 215 billion yen ($2.1 billion) in the year ending March 31, missing the 239.3 billion yen average of 19 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Sales Streak

Rising demand for Subaru’s top-selling Forester and the XV Crosstrek SUV paced a 22 percent surge in deliveries this year through April. Sales for the Subaru brand has notched 29 consecutive months of year-over-year sales gains.

With its market share on the rise, Fuji Heavy plans to boost U.S. capacity by 29 percent to 400,000 vehicles by the end of 2020.

The company aims to raise annual sales to more than 1.1 million vehicles by March 2021, with North America as its “top-priority market,” according to a mid-term strategy plan released today.

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Toyota Chalks Up Record Profit, Vehicle Sales

Via Detroit Free Press

TOKYO — Toyota chalked up a record annual profit and sales above 10 million vehicles for the first time, but forecast Thursday a slower year ahead as the momentum from a weak yen fades.

Expenses such as the $1.2 billion penalty it paid in a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department earlier this year for hiding information about defects in its cars dented its profit for January-March quarter, according to Toyota.

Toyota, the world’s top automaker, is forecasting a 1.78 trillion yen ($17.5 billion) profit for the fiscal year through March 2015.

That’s lower than what the company recorded for the fiscal year just ended, when its profit almost doubled to a record 1.82 trillion yen ($17.9 billion) from 962 billion yen the previous year.

Annual sales jumped 16 percent to 25.69 trillion yen ($252 billion), helped by a weak yen which aids Japanese exporters and thanks to growth in the U.S., Europe, Japan and the rest of Asia. The yen perk is likely transitory as the currency isn’t expected to weaken indefinitely.

Toyota believes Japan sales were inflated in recent months as consumers rushed to buy ahead of a tax increase that kicked in April 1, so that such growth won’t hold up during the current fiscal year.

Still, the company is on a roll.

The maker of the Prius hybrid, Lexus luxury model and Camry sedan became the first automaker to sell more than 10 million vehicles in a 12 month period, with sales totaling 10.13 million vehicles around the world for the fiscal year ended March. It also expects to surpass the 10-million milestone for the current calendar year.

It is expecting solid growth to continue, hoping to sell 10.25 million vehicles globally for the fiscal year through March 2015.

Highlighting the Japanese automaker’s ambitions, it noted that extra costs including research and development expenses were a factor in reducing its January-March profit to 297 billion yen ($2.9 billion) from 313.9 billion yen a year earlier.

Quarterly sales rose 12.5 percent to 6.57 trillion yen ($64.5 billion).

It also said costs related to closing its auto plant in Australia cut into profits.

Toyota has bounced back from a massive recall crisis that began in late 2009, which tarnished its reputation.

But there was a moment of deja vu last month when it announced a recall of 6.4 million vehicles globally, for a variety of problems spanning nearly 30 models in Japan, North America, Europe and other places. Some vehicles were recalled for more than one problem.

Toyota has been trying to put the recall mess behind it, with the $1.2 billion settlement it reached with the U.S. Justice Department. It earlier paid fines of more than $66 million for delays in reporting unintended acceleration problems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration never found defects in electronics or software in Toyota cars, which had been targeted as a possible cause.

Even more of a threat than recalls could be the fierce competition Toyota faces in key global markets from Volkswagen of Germany and Hyundai of South Korea, as well as U.S. automakers such as General Motors and Ford Motor.

Toyota sold fewer vehicles in North American for January-March at 567,000 vehicles compared to the same period the previous year at 603,000 vehicles.

But it is making up for such losses in other markets.

A weak yen also helped earnings at Honda Motor., which last week said that January-March net profit totaled 170.5 billion yen ($1.67 billion), up from 75.7 billion yen the year before.

Honda sold nearly 1.2 million vehicles worldwide during the quarter, also helped by demand ahead of the Japanese tax rise. It is forecasting a 4 percent rise in annual profit to 595 billion yen ($5.8 billion).

Although the dollar soared to about 100 yen during the past fiscal year from about 80 yen the fiscal year before that, it’s unlikely to keep rising at that pace, to 120 yen, for instance.

Nissan, allied with Renault of France, releases results Monday.

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