LOS ANGELS/SOUTHFIELD, MICHIGAN – Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. posted U.S. sales declines for October, rather than the increases they had forecast, while Nissan Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. led gains among Asian carmakers amid improving demand.
Deliveries fell 7.9 percent from a year earlier for Toyota and 0.5 percent for Honda, both of which were better than analysts had expected, Autodata Corp. said Tuesday.
Sales rose 18 percent for Nissan, 23 percent for Hyundai and 21 percent for Kia Motors Corp., while overall U.S. auto sales grew 7.5 percent.
“We came up a little short,” Bob Carter, Toyota’s group vice president of U.S. sales, said during a conference call Tuesday, blaming a lower than expected supply of Corollas. A sales gain in October “was an aggressive goal, given our inventory situation at the time, but something we wanted to shoot for.”
Toyota and Honda are trying to rebound from output losses caused by the March 11 earthquake and now must contend with possible parts shortages due to flooding in Thailand.
Even with their declines, industrywide U.S. sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 13.3 million cars and light trucks, beating the 13.2 million average of 14 estimates in a survey of analysts. It was the fastest pace of growth since February.
Toyota sales were expected to fall 9.1 percent, the average of five estimates. The average for Honda was a 2.5 percent drop.
Among U.S.-based competitors, General Motors Co.’s sales rose 1.7 percent, Ford Motor Co.’s grew 6.2 percent and Chrysler LLC reported a 27 percent increase.
“The pace for both Toyota and Honda through the first three weeks of the month was pretty strong, so it still seemed possible” that they would report sales gains, said Jesse Toprak, an analyst at TrueCar.com, an industry pricing and data service. “The meltdown in the financial markets the last few days of the month and unseasonable weather in the East Coast did play a role in slowing sales at the end of the month.”
Toyota’s Carter forecast an October gain after the company reported September sales. Honda’s U.S. sales chief John Mendel predicted a sales increase in an interview last week.
Toyota reported sales of 134,046 Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles last month, a drop from 145,474 a year earlier.
The October decline cut Toyota’s U.S. market share for the month to 13.1 percent from 15.3 percent a year earlier, according to Autodata.
Production is still improving, and supplies of the new Camry jumped to 35,000 units for sale this month, Carter said. Still, Toyota canceled overtime shifts at plants in Indiana, Kentucky and Canada as it assesses the effect of the Thai floods on parts.
Honda, which Mendel estimates missed out on 200,000 deliveries since the March earthquake, may lose some U.S. and Canadian output through late December because of parts shortages caused by the floods, he told dealers this week.
“The Japanese, who are just putting inventory back on dealer lots, are now going to be again faced with more production shortfalls,” said Maryann Keller, principal of a self-titled auto industry consulting firm. U.S. auto sales are still “in a modest upward trend,” she said.
Honda’s October sales fell to 98,333 Honda and Acura vehicles from 98,811 a year earlier. The company said that adjusting for one fewer selling day compared with October 2010, the deliveries rose 3.3 percent.
The company’s market share for the month was 9.6 percent, down from 10.4 percent a year earlier, Autodata said.
Nissan said its U.S. sales rose 18 percent last month, beating the 16 percent average of five analyst estimates. The company’s deliveries totaled 82,346, up from 69,773, including gains of more than 40 percent for Versa and Sentra small cars and a 37 percent increase for Juke crossovers.
Market share for Nissan rose to 8.1 percent from 7.3 percent, according to Autodata.
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