A Toyotathon

The reports of Toyota’s impending demise have been greatly exaggerated.

The reports of Toyota’s impending demise have been greatly exaggerated.

That is a conclusion that can be reached from a look at the company’s reported March 2010 retail sales numbers.

Compared to March 2009, sales of all of Toyota—cars, trucks, Scion, and Lexus—are up 35.3% Which is a pretty good indication that things are moving off of dealer lots.

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Looking at the Car that Ostensibly Can’t Be Stopped, a.k.a., the Camry, 29,623 were sold in March, up 28% from last year. The other Rogue Car (and we don’t mean the Nissan), the Prius, had sales of 11,786, or a 27% increase. Heck even the Tundra, which has had performance that brings a boat anchor to mind, had a sales increase of—wait for it—87% compared with March 2009. 10,785 Tundras were sold.

But if you happened to be in Dearborn and saw that 10,785 number, chances are more than a little guffawing would be provoked, because Ford moved 42,514 F-Series trucks in March, up 29% from the previous year.

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[Do you get the feeling that vehicle sales are rebounding? You ought to. They are. Company after company is reporting record sales. As Dick Cheney might put it, “Big time.”]

And speaking of Ford—which is arguably on fire, as compared to last year its total Ford brand sales (excluding Lincoln, Mercury, and Volvo) are up 45.6%--it is worth making a point of reference vis-à-vis Toyota.

In March Ford sold 22,773 Fusions. That is the biggest selling car. So compare that with the 29,623 Camrys. Even if you toss in the Taurus for good measure, the total is 29,774, or just a 151 more units than Camry. Ford sold 19,500 Focuses. Toyota sold 29,623 Corollas.

Now much of Toyota’s success is undoubtedly predicated on the fact that they’re making what the company itself is describing on its website as “historic offers.” Meaning you can get incredible deals on the company’s products. That said, however, this presents Detroit—and please know that Ford is just being used as an example—with a problem because it has been selling against Toyota (and Honda, which, incidentally, sold 29,120 Accords in March and 22,463 Civics) hard, trying to get customers to try its products. If they get into the Camrys and Corollas, these customers might like them as much as previous customers have. So any advantage from the recalls is ultimately moot.