As Toyota Looks at its Global Future, Edmunds.com Reports on the Company's Presence in America
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — March 7, 2011 — Toyota's "Global Vision" conference this Wednesday promises to set the tone for the Japanese automaker's worldwide direction in the next decade. But Edmunds.com's analysis shows that Toyota has much more immediate concerns to address — at least here in the United States.
In 2010, Edmunds.com reported that Toyota was the only major automaker with a drop in overall U.S. sales (-0.3%), falling from #2 to #3 in U.S. market share. (See http://www.edmunds.com/about/press/edmundscom-one-year-on-lingering-safety-concerns-are-not-all-that-ails-toyota.html for more details.) On top of that, consideration for Toyota vehicles in 2010 on Edmunds.com was down about 3.8 percentage points year over year .The trend has continued so far in 2011, with Toyota trailing both GM and Ford in both sales and market share, and consideration for the brand on Edmunds.com down one percentage point year over year.
Still haunting Toyota are its perceived safety and quality issues. When the U.S. Department of Transportation said last month that no electronic flaws caused Toyota's unintended acceleration problems, many thought it would be an opportunity for Toyota to re-gain its momentum in the U.S. market. But that hope was quickly interrupted two weeks later when Toyota recalled over two million vehicles in the U.S. to address potential floor mat interference with accelerator pedals. Many of the recalled models included Toyota's Lexus line, which further threatened the brand's already precarious spot at the top of the U.S. luxury auto sales race.
But as easy as it is to blame factors relating to its recalls, Edmunds.com analysts see another pressing concern for Toyota.
"Toyota needs to overcome not just the PR damage sustained by the recalls, but also the reality that many of its models are stale," said Jessica Caldwell, director of pricing and industry analysis. "In the last few years Toyota's lineup has remained relatively untouched compared to the changes its top competitors have made to their fleets. In today's competitive marketplace, updating the product line is more important than ever, especially as most new car buyers cross-shop online without much product loyalty, and many dismiss the cars that are lacking desirable new technology features."
Earlier this year, Edmunds' AutoObserver.com reported that Toyota (including Lexus and Scion) plans to release 11 new or redesigned models in 2011. Updates to the Camry and RAV4 — two of Toyota's traditional top sellers — are expected to be included in the 2011 Toyota redesigns.
As Toyota's fiscal year comes to a close at the end of this month, there is some good news for Toyota's recovery. Industry-wide sales in the US are rising sharply and Toyota reported year-over-year sales increase of 42% in February (a number surely influenced by Toyota's decision last year to pull eight models from lots in the days after it announced its recalls). Combined Camry and Camry Hybrid sales totaled 64 percent higher than a year earlier and Corolla sales were 52 percent better. As a result Edmunds' AutoObserver.com reports Toyota is raising its forecasts for the year to an operating profit of $6.4 billion rather than the $4.5 billion originally forecast. It's still far down from the massive $19.9 billion profit it posted in 2007-08, but at least it's moving in the right direction.
A preview of Toyota's "Global Vision" conference this week can be found at Edmunds' Auto Observer.com at http://www.autoobserver.com/2011/03/toyota-to-set-new-global-direction-this-week.html. Consumers can learn more about Toyota's line of cars and trucks on Edmunds.com at http://www.edmunds.com/toyota/.
About Edmunds.com, Inc. (http://www.edmunds.com/help/about/index.html)
Edmunds.com Inc. publishes Web sites that empower, engage and educate automotive consumers, enthusiasts and insiders. Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information Web site and hosts the most established automotive community online. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.edmunds.com, makes car pricing and other research tools available for car shoppers at dealerships and otherwise on the go. InsideLine.com is the most-read automotive enthusiast Web site. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.insideline.com, features the wireless Web's highest quality car photos and videos. AutoObserver.com provides insightful automotive industry commentary and analysis. Edmunds.com Inc. is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit. Follow Edmunds.com on Twitter@edmunds and fan Edmunds.com on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/edmunds.