March sales figures show that American consumers have not lost faith in Toyota. Quite the opposite.
Toyota reported sales jumped 40.7 per cent to 186,863 in March compared to the same period a year ago. The real increase was slightly less given there were 26 selling days this March compared to 25 in March, 2009. For the first quarter, Toyota sales were up 8.7 per cent.
In short, four decades of being the acknowledged quality leader was not washed away overnight by Toyota's stuck accelerator problems. Toyota wrote the book on quality and has run circles around American car makers for years, but has been under seige since last November when the stuck accelerator story broke.
Interestingly, truck sales were up a whopping 54.1 per cent aided by relatively stable gas prices. Consumer Reports has consistently ranked Toyota's Tacoma small pickup as one of the most reliable vehicle on road year after year.
But with car numbers, there's always caveats. The first quarter of March, 2009 was one of the worst for the car industry in a half century. So 2010 improves on very soft numbers last year although Toyota weathered 2009 better than most other car makers.
Toyota also offered incentives which it historically has done less than most other manufacturers given its consistent growth and solid reputation. They included zero per cent financing and cash back, depending on model. A recovering economy helped, too.
However, Toyota is not completely out of the woods. The stuck accelerator problems were real and law suits will haunt the company for years. But it has to be somewhat reassured that consumers didn't abandon it.