=WSJ UPDATE: Toyota Aims To Lift Annual US Sales To 2M Vehicles By 2013 -
Wed Oct 06 23:40:40 2010 EDT
By Mike Ramsey
Of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Dow Jones)--Toyota Motor Corp. on Wednesday challenged U.S.
dealers to boost annual sales in the U.S. to two million vehicles by 2013, an
increase of 30% over its current level, according to two people briefed by the
Yoshi Inaba, president of the U.S. operations, made the challenge to more
than a thousand dealers who attended a national dealer meeting, this person
The automaker also showed dealers the two new versions of its Prius hybrid
that it plans to introduce in the U.S. before the end of 2012, these people
The new versions include a subcompact that is smaller than the current Prius
hatchback and about the size of Toyota's Yaris subcompact, they said.
The other looks like a small sport-utility vehicle and has 50% more interior
and cargo space than the existing Prius model, the people said.
Toyota has discussed for more than a year the idea of expanding the number
hybrid models it offers under the Prius name.
After the dealer meeting, Toyota also announced in a statement that it would
make standard its free two-year, 25,0000-mile scheduled maintenance program.
The offer was started as an incentive program in March and never discontinued.
It now applies to all future sales of Toyota and Scion models.
Toyota is seeking to return to the rapid growth rate that made it the world's
largest automaker. On Tuesday, Lexus dealers were told that Toyota would offer
rebates and subsidize loans and leases on most Lexus models in a bid to help
the luxury brand secure the top sales spot among premium brands.
Lexus has been the top-selling luxury make in the U.S. for about a decade but
trails Mercedes-Benz so far this year.
Toyota has lost more than a percentage point of market share in 2010 so far,
mainly as a result of the fallout from the quality and safety crisis that
engulfed the auto maker earlier this year.
In Las Vegas, Toyota Chief Executive Akio Toyoda also told the dealers that
his number one priority was to give customers peace of mind about the products
and to enliven the brand, making the cars more fun and enjoyable to drive, the
people briefed by the company said.
Toyota promised last January that it would go forward with an expanded Prius
line, including, a plug-in version of the Prius that can go about 13 miles on
only electricity before the engine kicks on in 2012.
Toyota, which already sells more hybrids than any other automaker, recently
said it would introduce six new hybrid models in the next two years. The Prius
models build on a well-established brand that has been the market leader in
Mr. Toyoda told the dealers that Toyota would try to be the world leader in
building environmentally conscious vehicles and touted the company's
cooperation with Tesla Motors Inc. Toyota is building a RAV4 electric car using
Tesla battery technology, the people briefed by Toyota said.
He also thanked the Toyota dealers for sticking by the company as they dealt
with millions of repairs for recalled vehicles since last fall, due primarily
to complaints about unintended acceleration, according to the people briefed by
Toyota executives also told dealers they were committed to reviving the
struggling, youth-oriented Scion brand and were bringing a slate of new
products, the people said.
The new Scion models include a production version of its FT-86 concept car as
well as the already-announced Scion iQ subcompact, the people said.
Toyota is one of the few automakers to offer free maintenance on its
vehicles. The incentive was launched in March as Toyota was seeking to regain
the trust of American buyers.
Toyota briefly stopped selling eight of its most popular models in February
to fix a sticky accelerator pedal. Toyota also was in the midst of recalling
millions of vehicles for slipping floor mats that could entrap accelerator
-By Mike Ramsey, The Wall Street Journal; Mike.Ramsey@wsj.com