Don’t look now, big Automaker, but Toyota is recovering traction in the US much faster than anticipated even a few weeks ago. And once it’s got something resembling normal vehicle inventory levels back in place, expect the once-unassailable Toyota brand to attempt to come back like it’s got something to prove — and market share to re-gain.
Toyota executives are determined to return production to normal levels at their North American operations much more quickly than they had feared and announced. This month, output of eight core North America-built models (the Toyota Avalon, Camry Corolla, Highlander, Matrix, Sequoia, Sienna and Venza) will return to normal, while Toyota just announced that production of a handful of others would normalize by September.
The company’s Japan-built vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius hybrid and nearly all Lexus luxury models, won’t reach normal stocks in the U.S. until November. But already Bob Carter, Toyota’s US sales boss, is saying that the company is “back in the sales business.”
And beginning this week, Toyota will resume a version of the “No. 1 for a Reason” marketing campaign, promoting national and regional incentives, that was so dramatically interrupted by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Competitors are attempting to make hay while the sun shines for them, racking up sales of small cars and other fuel-efficient vehicles in the U.S., at firm prices, while Toyota, Honda and Nissan feverishly rebuild and begin to re-stock.
“The Japanese situation is temporary, as Toyota is reminding us,” Rebecca Lindland, a senior strategist for the IHS Automotive consulting firm in Lexington, Mass., told brandchannel. “And they’re recovering significantly faster.”