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Toyota Boosts Forecast for US Auto Sales

Thursday, 05 April 2012 03:31 PM

Toyota Motor Corp. raised its forecast for 2012 industrywide U.S. sales of cars and light trucks, citing rising consumer confidence.

Toyota, Asia’s largest automaker, increased its forecast to the low- to mid-14 million-unit range from 13.6 million.

“We’re starting to see improvement in consumer confidence and, combined with rising fuel prices and aging vehicles, the market is starting to move,” Bob Carter, Toyota’s group vice president for U.S. sales, told reporters at the New York auto show. “It’s happening quicker than anyone thought.”

U.S. light-vehicle sales rose 13 percent in the year’s first quarter to 3.47 million. Toyota followed Ford Motor Co. in boosting its 2012 forecast. Ford yesterday projected that total U.S. vehicle sales, including medium- and heavy-duty trucks, would total 14.5 million to 15 million, up from a previous estimate of 13.5 million to 14.5 million.

Rising gasoline prices are bringing buyers into showrooms looking to replace their older cars with more fuel-efficient models, Carter said.

“Today, the No. 1 attribute is mpg,” Carter said. “We’re very bullish in the industry.”

Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, is seeking to increase U.S. sales 15 percent this year, after a 6.7 percent slide in 2011. Natural disasters in Japan and Thailand reduced supplies of parts and assembled vehicles. Toyota’s deliveries rose 12 percent in 2012’s first quarter to 487,284.

Revamped Avalon

The company today in New York showed its restyled Avalon that goes on sale late this year. The new version of the full- size sedan, designed in California, engineered in Michigan and built in Kentucky, is “the beginning of a new era for vehicle development in the U.S. for the American market,” Carter said.

Toyota didn’t announce prices or a sales goal for the car.

The company’s U.S. sales unit is in Torrance, California. Toyota’s American depositary receipts rose 0.1 percent to $83.70 at 2:43 p.m. New York time.

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Thursday, 05 April 2012 03:31 PM
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