Business / Corporate

Toyota to hit U.S. sales goal for Prius after all: Lentz


Toyota Motor Corp. said it will meet its U.S. sales goal for the Prius after saying in April that it might adjust the target as declining gas prices sap demand for the hybrid car.

“We’re on target for sales of 250,000 units of the Prius family,” Jim Lentz, Toyota’s North American chief executive officer, said Wednesday in Nagoya. “The U.S. economy finally seems to be improving.”

Toyota’s U.S. deliveries have missed analyst estimates for four straight months, and its sales gain in the five months that ended in May trailed industrywide growth amid demand for pickup trucks. U.S. automakers including General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have gained 1.2 points of market share this year as sales continue on a pace for the best year since 2007.

“Competition is very fierce in the market this year, and with relatively low gasoline prices, demand for models such as Toyota’s Prius may not be very strong,” said Yoshiaki Kawano, a Tokyo-based analyst at industry researcher IHS Automotive. “The new Corolla due later this year will be a chance for Toyota to boost sales.”

Industrywide deliveries have climbed 7.3 percent to 6.42 million units through May, according to industry researcher Autodata Corp. Toyota’s sales rose 5.2 percent to 913,556 units in the same period. It’s targeting deliveries of 2.2 million units in the U.S. this year, a 5.6 percent increase from a year earlier.

While sales of the Prius hybrid last month were the best in a year, Toyota in April said deliveries of the gasoline-and-electric models may not reach their target for 2013 after falling 8.4 percent in the first quarter.

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