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Old 11-04-2007, 02:00 PM
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Arrow Tundra Fuels Better Sales for Toyota

As Ford and Chrysler continue to struggle, Toyota Motor Sales USA in October broke out of a three-month slump to post a 0.5 percent increase from the same month a year ago.

Toyota reported overall October auto sales of 197,592 vehicles. The automaker reports its monthly sales figures on an adjusted basis, taking into account that October 2007 gave carmakers one additional selling day compared with October 2006.

Contributing to Toyota's sales increase was a 71 percent jump in sales of the 2007 Tundra, built at plants in San Antonio and Princeton, Ind.

However, October 2006 sales figures were low because Toyota was phasing out its 2006 Tundras and kept its inventories low to make room for the bigger 2007 Tundra. Sales of the new Tundra began in February.

Toyota on Thursday said it sold 17,868 of the redesigned Tundras last month, and executives on a conference call said the company is optimistic it will reach its goal of selling 200,000 by year's end.

"As it stands now, we believe we can get there," Randy Pflughaupt, Toyota's vice president of corporate communications, said during the call with reporters and analysts.

The company recently announced a 60-month, no-interest offer on 2007 Tundras. It also has reconfigured 2008 models, reducing the number of standard options and shaving $1,250 to $2,000 off the price of entry-level Double Cab and CrewMax editions.

Auto analysts had predicted another slow sales month industrywide, with Ford falling hardest as jittery consumers continue putting off big-ticket purchases in response to the troubled housing market and high gas prices.

Ford Motor Co. on Thursday reported its overall October auto sales fell 9.5 percent to 194,762. The automaker blames the extended weak performance largely on pulling back on low-profit sales to rental car companies, according to the Associated Press, which reports unadjusted figures using the total number of vehicles sold in a month compared with the same month a year earlier.

"Almost all of this is due to a previously planned reduction in daily rental sales," George Pipas, Ford's top sales analyst, said in a conference call. "This summer has been tough. Beginning in May, the daily rental reductions on a year-over-year basis have had a big impact in total sales result." Ford truck sales, however, were up 1.2 percent in the month.

General Motors Corp. said its overall sales rose 3.3 percent. It introduced new versions of its GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado models for 2007 and saw truck sales climb 5.8 percent despite rising gas prices.

Toyota acknowledged that higher gas prices and other economic factors could keep the company from meeting its Tundra sales target, but said the goal is well within reach. The company has sold 162,348 Tundras as of October's end.

Toyota also is offering consumers incentives valued at $3,436 per truck, according to Edmunds Inc., which provides auto data to consumers. That's down 6 percent from October 2006, but significantly higher than the $710 in incentives Toyota offers on average per vehicle.

"They are being more aggressive than usual," Edmunds analyst Jesse Toprak said. "Toyota is very serious about grabbing whatever market share they can in the profitable large-truck segment. It's the latest battlefield for them to conquer in the U.S." Domestic manufacturers have traditionally dominated the competitive large-truck market.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: [url=http://www.hispanicbusiness.com/news/newsbyid.asp?id=80986]HispanicBusiness.com[/url]
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