January strikes fear into the hearts of many automakers for one key reason: slow sales. Add in the nasty winter weather that parts of the U.S. have been experiencing in the past month, and it should come as no surprise that many automakers are reporting lower sales. Case in point: Toyota, which announced a 7.2 percent sales decline in January, totaling just 146,365 vehicles.
"January was off to a solid start, but weather conditions slowed industry sales in key markets late in the month. For Toyota, we’re pleased with our retail sales and strong truck results, and we expect to see growth back in February,” said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager.
For the Toyota brand, January sales reached 128,728 vehicles, a decline of 9 percent when compared to last January. All of Toyota's passenger cars posted losses, with the Corolla posting the lowest loss of 4.5 percent. Interestingly enough, however, even with only 22,753 units sold for the month, the Corolla was still the best-selling compact car in the U.S. Similarly, the Camry retained its title as best-selling midsize sedan for the month with January numbers totaling 23,332 units.
The downward trend continued over at Scion, where 2014 got off to a rotten start. The brand reported sales of 4,011 vehicles, a drop of 18 percent. The big seller for parts of 2013, the FR-S, had a surprisingly horrible start as well. With only 921 units sold, the model saw a 36.2 percent drop.
Fortunately, January told a happier story for Toyota's trucks and SUVs. The group as a whole recorded an increase of 6.5 percent, continuing a trend for the past few months wherein trucks and SUVs faired better than passenger cars. The RAV4 led the way with a 45.4 percent increase to 16,880 units. Close behind was the new Highlander with 10,676 units, an increase of 20.9 percent.
Similar to Toyota's large vehicle division, Lexus on the whole had a much better January. They reported sales of 17,637 vehicles, an increase of 8.8 percent. The RX crossover was the big seller with 5,607 units sold, an increase of 3.9 percent. Meanwhile, two Lexus models posted big gains in January: the IS sedan posted a 119.9 percent increase to 3,048 units, and the GX SUV posted a 96.9 percent increase to 1,443 units.
"Our great selling line-up of luxury utility vehicles and another big month from IS combined to give Lexus one of the few nameplate increases for the month of January," said Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president and general manager.