Toyota claims the U.S. auto market has peaked

Toyota Motor Corp. executive claims that the U.S. auto market has peaked and will shrink this year, with manufacturers using unprecedented incentives to support passenger cars through slumping demand. The president of Toyota’s U.S. sales unit, Bob Carter, says that industrywide deliveries may decline to as low as 17 million vehicles from last year’s record of about 17.5 million. A rapid shift in demand toward sport utility vehicles at the expense of sedans is the main factor driving automakers’ heavy discounts.

Once the industry starts to get their pipelines lined up to where the consumer demand is, we’ll see a little bit of relaxing on some of these high incentives. Toyota’s discounts are now higher than ever, driven by light trucks reaching about 65 percent of industry sales, up from roughly half. Toyota’s shares fell 2.1 percent as of 11:12 a.m. in Tokyo trading, the biggest drag on the benchmark Topix index, which slid 1.3 percent. Bob Carter said the company is expecting industry sales will finish the year at 17 million to 17.2 million vehicles. Read more

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