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Toyota US sales plunge

autos Updated: Feb 03, 2010 21:33 IST
Reuters
Toyota

Toyota Motor Corp suffered a sharp drop in U.S. sales last month as its massive recall and unprecedented sales halt allowed rivals to grab market share from the world’s largest automaker.

In the latest blow to its once gold-plated quality image, Toyota said on Wednesday dealers in both the United States and Japan had reported complaints from buyers over the brakes in its new model Prius hybrid.

Toyota pulled eight of its most popular models including the Camry, Corolla and Rav4 from U.S. showrooms in the last week of January following complaints over sticking accelerator pedals.

Toyota’s monthly sales fell 16 per cent and its U.S. market share fell to its lowest level since January 2006 as rivals Ford Motor Co and General Motors Corp surged past. Its monthly U.S. sales dropped below 100,000 vehicles for the first time in more than a decade.

“Auto sales and market share is kind of like a high-speed road race and if you get caught up in the gravel on the shoulder you can get passed really fast, and essentially that is what happened to Toyota,” Autoconomy analyst Erich Merkle said.

“Right now we have to find out how long it is going to take them to get back on pavement again,” Merkle said.

As Toyota sales fell, Ford and Hyundai Motor Co emerged as the big winners, each posting 24 percent sales gains.

Honda’s adjusted sales rose 2.9 percent.

Honda Unlike Ford, Hyundai and General Motors, Honda has not taken aim at Toyota customers and an executive expressed concern that fallout from the crisis might spread.

“Toyota is the front-runner representing Japanese cars,” Honda Executive Vice President Koichi Kondo told reporters. “In that sense, we’re somewhat worried that there may be a knock-on effect on other Japanese brands, but we’ll need a little more time to gauge any impact.”