Toyota US sales
25 per cent
TOYOTA sales in the US surged 25 per cent last month on demand for fuel-efficient cars and incentives for trucks, helping Japanese and South Korean vehicle makers gain market share for the 14th straight month.
Toyota, the world's second-largest vehicle maker, posted its biggest percentage increase in 17 months.
- Alan Ohnsman and Bill Koenig
The Asian manufacturers boosted their combined sales by 6.4 per cent to 540,119 cars and trucks, for 39.9 per cent of the US market.
"The momentum Toyota has had the past few months is phenomenal," said David Hilton, senior manager of Cap Gemini SA's Americas automotive consulting practice. "It doesn't look like anything can stop them, or even slow them down."
Toyota, the maker of the petrol-electric Prius, has claimed the No. 3 rank in the US this year, outselling DaimlerChrysler for six months in a row. General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler have struggled as high fuel prices cut demand for utilities, sport utility vehicles and minivans.
Asian vehicle makers' market share rose 1.7 percentage points from 38.2 per cent a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp. Honda, fifth in US sales, had a 4.1 per cent decline in sales. Nissan sales fell 5.6 per cent and Hyundai slid 13 per cent, its first decline in two years.
Industrywide, US sales rose 1.9 per cent from September 2005 to 1.35 million cars and light trucks. Ford, the nation's second-biggest vehicle maker, increased sales 4.6 per cent. Sales fell 3.1 per cent at GM, the world's largest, and 2.3 per cent at DaimlerChrysler.
Toyota sold 222,950 cars and trucks, and the company's US unit said the gains were led by smaller models such as the Prius petrol-electric hatchback and Corolla, Yaris and Scion cars.
Cars such as the Prius and Honda's Civic Hybrid, which combine petrol and electric power to get more mileage from fuel, are increasing in popularity. To encourage the use of such vehicles, California last month said some hybrid vehicles would be allowed to use highway car pool lanes even if the driver is not accompanied by passengers.
Light-truck sales of the company based in Toyota City increased 35 per cent from a year earlier, led by a 74 per cent jump for Tundra utilities and a 43 per cent rise for the big Sequoia.
Incentives including rebates and low-interest loans were added for both models last month. Average rebates on Tundra utilities rose to $US3304 ($A4426) last month.
"Toyota has been spending money," said George Magliano, director of vehicle research at forecasting company Global Insight Inc. "They're doing it selectively, and on the truck side."
The company's market share in the US for the month rose 3.1 percentage points to 16.5 per cent. Honda's sales fell to 116,226 Honda and Acura vehicles, as the Tokyo-based company sold fewer Accord sedans, Civic small cars and Element wagons.