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Is Toyota Next to Pare Back its Passenger Car Line?

US CEO “taking a hard look” at model mix in the era of the SUV.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.06, 2018

No longer #1; the Camry is just one of the Toyota passenger car models losing momentum.

With the exception of the Mustang, Ford is winding down production of passenger cars. Fiat Chrysler has eliminated almost all of its sedans and coupes, as well. In an era when SUVs have come to rule the roads, could Toyota be far behind?

While we’re not likely to see the Camry or Corolla nameplates vanish anytime soon, the Japanese giant is also rethinking its model mix and could toss some of its sedans, coupes and hatchbacks as it puts more of an emphasis on sport and crossover-utility vehicles, according to the head of its North American operations.

Beyond the Headlines!

“We are taking a hard look at all the segments we compete in, to make sure we are competing in profitable segments and that products that we sell have strategic value to the brand,” Jim Lentz told the Wall Street Journal.

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Toyota Earnings Soar on Global Sales Surge

Automaker lifts full-year forecast.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.06, 2018

Strong demand for Lexus, especially in the Chinese market, helped Toyota deliver strong earnings.

Toyota Motor Corp. reported a 28% increase in its net profit for the July-September quarter, earnings buoyed by strong demand in key global markets, including the Americas, Asia and Europe.

The Japanese giant also advised that it expects to see earnings push past earlier forecasts for the full year, in part driven by unexpectedly strong demand in China. Sales of the Lexus brand, have been booming there, despite a slowdown in the overall Chinese market.

Business News!

Sales gains were only one of the factors that propped up Toyota’s bottom line, said Senior Managing Masayoshi Shirayanagi. Referring to aggressive cost-cutting efforts, he said, “We are steadily making progress toward achieving our challenge-level target.”

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Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Take Global Sales Lead

VW slips to second, Toyota to third.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.30, 2018

Carlos Ghosn, shown at the debut of the latest Maxima, has turned the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance into a global juggernaut.

The global auto industry has a new king-of-the-hill, the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which got a helping hand with the inclusion of the long-troubled Japanese automaker Mitsubishi.

Combined together, the three members of the Franco-Japanese alliance sold 10.61 million vehicles during 2017, narrowly topping Germany’s Volkswagen AG. Toyota, which had led the sales charts for much of the past decade before itself being toppled by VW last year, slipped into third.

Global Auto News!

“This evolution reflects the breadth and depth of our model range, our global market presence and the customer appeal of our vehicle technologies,” said Carlos Ghosn, the chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and CEO of both Renault and Mitsubishi.

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New Vehicle Sales Sputter in December

Same old news: car sales down, trucks and SUVs up.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.03, 2018

Ford posted strong sales in December, and its Explorer post its best results since 2005.

This story has been updated to include results from additional automakers.

Despite the usual year-end push to get vehicles out the door, most automakers endured tough sledding in December.

General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen all reported sales decreases for December while Ford Motor and Audi reported modest gains as the auto industry finished a year in which the growth in overall sales stopped and then declined.

Sales News!

While overall results were unimpressive, sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles remained robust at year end. Volkswagen, which has long been dependent on sales of passenger cars, reported that 48% of its sales in December were SUVs. VW wasn’t alone in enjoying strong SUV sales last month. (more…)

Toyota Earnings Soar as Yen Sinks

Japanese giant raises full-year forecast despite weaker U.S. demand.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.07, 2017

Sales of the RAV4, including the new hybrid shown here, have picked up while sedan demand tumbles.

A weak Japanese yen translated into strong earnings for Toyota Motor Corp. during the July-September quarter and has the automaker forecasting improved earnings for the current fiscal year despite sliding sales in North America, its key market.

For the second quarter in Toyota’s fiscal year, earnings rose to 481.21 billion yen, or $4.2 billion, compared with 410.77 billion yen a year earlier. Toyota is now forecasting it will earn 1.95 trillion yen during the fiscal year ending next March 31, or $17 billion at the current exchange rate. It delivered earnings of 1.75 trillion yen, or $15 billion last year.

By the Numbers!

Separately, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. delivered an unexpectedly solid profit, reversing the losses its suffered in the wake of revelations that it had cheated on vehicle mileage tests. The resulting scandal led to the small Japanese maker’s takeover by Nissan Motor Co. last year.

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Renault-Nissan Alliance Leapfrogs Toyota, VW, to Become World’s #1 Automaker

Hits mid-year with big lead, lots of momentum.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jul.28, 2017

Badass warrior? Nissan and Alliance partner Renault have leveraged a lead in global sales.

The auto industry has a new king-of-the-hill – at least for the first half of the year. A dark horse not all that long ago, the Renault-Nissan Alliance handily outsold both Volkswagen and Toyota and continues to gain momentum going into 2017’s second act.

It had been largely a two-horse race until recently, Volkswagen last year pulling off an upset due to a series of problems hammering Toyota. But Nissan has rapidly gained speed and last year’s effective takeover of troubled Mitsubishi Motors Corp. helped put it over the top.

Industry News!

For the first half, the Euro-Asian Renault-Nissan Alliance sold 5,268,079 vehicles, compared to Volkswagen’s 5,155,600 and Toyota’s 5,129,000. All three makers are on track to top 10 million for year. But General Motors, which had long ranked at the top of the sales charts, now lacks well back in fourth and unlikely to even make 9.5 million for the full year without picking up its pace.

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Toyota’s Earnings Take 21% Tumble

But CEO says company’s cars are no longer “boring.”

by Paul A. Eisenstein on May.10, 2017

Toyota's earnings are down again, but at least its cars are less "boring," said CEO Toyoda.

For a second year in a row, Toyota saw its profits tumble, this time by nearly 21%, largely driven by the high cost of propping up demand in a slowing U.S. market.

Earnings were also hammered by unfavorable exchange rates, company officials noted during a media briefing on Wednesday, though at $16.1 billion, or 1.83 trillion yen, Toyota still managed to out-earn its biggest rivals, including General Motors and Volkswagen.

Global News!

But that wasn’t enough to satisfy CEO Akio Toyoda, especially in light of the decline Toyota experienced in the previous fiscal year ending March 31, 2016. “In the sporting world, two years of falling profit would be considered a losing streak, and I hate losing,” he told reporters and analysts.

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Renault-Nissan Aims to Be New Global King of the Hill

Automotive apple cart in for an upset.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on May.01, 2017

The Nissan Qashqai is getting a new look for Europe - and a new badge, the Rogue Sport - for the U.S.

In recent years, it’s been a three-way race to see which automaker would take the global sales and production lead, with Volkswagen pulling off an upset last year, toppling Toyota, while long-time leader has continued to lose momentum.

But there’s a pair of dark horses in the race and both hail from France, of all places. One, the Renault-Nissan Alliance, is already making its move, while the PSA Group, until recently considered an industry basket case, is also making its move.

By the Numbers!

About the only thing certain is that General Motors seems out of the running and comfortable slipping down the charts as it abandons its long-troubled European sales subsidiary. Beyond that, the race for leadership could be a real cliffhanger over the next several years.

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Toyota Earnings Tumble on Weak Yen

“No immediate plan” to shift production from Japan to U.S.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Feb.06, 2017

Strong demand for light trucks like the RAV4 propped up Toyota's sales in the U.S.

A strong yen translated into weaker earnings for Toyota Motor Corp. during the fiscal third quarter, with the impact likely to continue in the months to come, the company anticipating a 26% decline in its net profit for the year ending March 31.

Separately, Toyota officials told reporters that despite comments by CEO Akio Toyoda last month that the automaker will add more jobs in the U.S., there are “no immediate plans” to curb production at Toyota’s factories in Japan which produce about 3 million vehicles annually, many of them bound for America.

Breaking News!

Toyota’s earnings could have slipped even further had it not engaged in aggressive cost-cutting, Managing Officer Tetsuya Otake told reporters during a conference call. Nonetheless, the problem will continue, he said, noting, “We’ve revised our full-year yen forecast to 107 yen to the U.S. dollar from 103 yen, which is the biggest contributing factor to our profit forecast revision.”

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Some Up, Some Down as Automakers Report January Sales

Strong consumer confidence yields record for Hyundai, but numbers slump at GM, Ford and Toyota.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Feb.01, 2017

Dusting the competition: Ford was down overall, but had a spectacular month for F-Series.

After a robust finish to 2016, new vehicle sales slowed in January, though generally remained healthy enough overall to boost confidence for the coming year.

There has been concern within the industry that 2016 brought a peak to the automotive recovery, with analyst and industry planners watching to see if and when things would begin to cool off. The good news they got was that, with a few exceptions, the new car market appeared to do better than initially forecast – and not only were sales relatively solid but consumers continued buying more expensive products.

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The numbers were decidedly mixed, industry giants General Motors, Toyota and Ford all reporting year-over-year declines for January. But Nissan’s sales were up for the month, and a number of automakers scored new sales records, including Hyundai, Audi and Nissan’s luxury arm Infiniti. Auto industry analysts had been anticipating declines of anywhere from 0.7% to 2.7% — according to TrueCar and KelleyBlueBook, respectively. But even for many of those makers who did suffer sales dips in January, the news wasn’t all bad.

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