“It is a tribute to our dealers and our products that they were able to dramatically outperform much of the industry in March, despite the unprecedented level of scrutiny we faced in the past two months,” TMS Senior Vice President Don Esmond said during a conference call with journalists.
The industry SAAR for the month was around 11.8 million units, making March the best single month since August when “Cash for Clunkers” was in full swing. Esmond said TMS’ full-year forecast of 11.5 million units “still looks good.”
About 60 percent of March sales were to Toyota owners, while the remaining 40 percent were conquest sales to owners of rival brands. “While these buyers were obviously reacting to our special offers, they were also showing their confidence in the safety and quality of Toyota vehicles,” said Esmond. No incentive would induce someone to buy a vehicle they thought was unsafe, he added. “I’m gratified by consumers’ confidence.”
Consumers purchased more Toyotas than any other brand in March, and TMS topped both Ford and General Motors by nearly 40,000 retail sales for the month.
Asked if he thought Toyota was beginning to overcome recent negative publicity, Esmond said, “Take a look at March; consumers voted with their wallets.” He credited much of the surge to the “dealers’ outstanding response to the recalls.”
As to whether Toyota was close to making up its earlier sales decline, Esmond said that “this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” and he expects Toyota to finish the year with about a 10 percent increase in sales over last year.
To read the March sales press release, please go to:
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