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Light truck sales drop 25%, Toyota screws up

By Joe Romm on August 6, 2008 at 7:30 am

"Light truck sales drop 25%, Toyota screws up"

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Green Car Congress reports:

US sales of light-duty vehicles continued their decline in July, dropping to a total 1.136 million units, a 13.2% reduction in volume compared to July 2007, according to Autodata….

The year-on-year decrease came, in general, out of the light-duty truck segment. Sales of cars in July 2008 slightly increased 0.3% on a volume basis (not on a day-sales rate) to 620,213 units, according to Autodata. Light truck sales, however, dropped 25.2% by volume from the year before to 515,963 units.

July08sales3_2The car-truck ratio for the month was 55:45, the fifth consecutive month cars have held the majority of the new light vehicle market.

Sadly, Toyota really screwed up in its planning for hybrid production:

On the hybrid side, Toyota said it continued to be hampered by availability, with the Prius posting 14,785 units for the month, and the Camry Hybrid 2,645, out of a total of 20,363 hybrids sold. Toyota’s total hybrid sales in July dropped 11.9% year-on-year.

Toyota appears to be short on batteries based on reports from last month:

Prius sales dropped 37.5 percent in May to 15,011 compared with May 2007. Combined sales of the Escape Hybrid and its stablemate, the Mercury Mariner Hybrid, dropped 26.0 percent to 2,378 last month….

Bob Carter, the head of Toyota’s U.S. operations, said limited supplies hobbled Prius sales.

“A year ago, our supplies were at record level in Prius,” he said. “Now we’re in that catch-up mode.”

Toyota couldn’t ramp up battery production fast enough to build enough Priuses to meet demand, Carter said. Hybrids use an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors to power the wheels.

Given that Toyota underestimated the original demand for the Prius, and given that Toyota is one of the few major companies in the world to really believe in peak oil, I find this poor planning inexcusable. I hope they have enough production for the next generation Prius and for their plug in.

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31 Responses to Light truck sales drop 25%, Toyota screws up

  1. red says:

    I wonder what Toyota is able to get for a Prius now compared to then? Maybe they need some more competition to give them a better focus on managing their suppliers. Hopefully some of these people

    xprizecars.com/

    (as well as others) will grow their companies enough to give them that competition.

  2. Ronald says:

    Prius and there battery shortages gives me a little concern over how hard is it to make these batteries and how hard is it going to be to make motor vehicle batteries in the future. I’m in manufacturing and I realize that supplies, manufaturing schedules, and demand don’t always match up, but they have been building these batteries for a while. I can’t imagine these are harder to make than other more specialized parts of motor vehicles.

  3. Pierre Gosselin says:

    Hmmmm!
    Interesting graphics.
    During Gore’s term as VP, truck sales jumped greatly.
    It was only during Bush’s administration that truck sales have started to come down. The same can be said about US CO2 emissions.

    Hats off to Bush!

  4. John Hollenberg says:

    > It was only during Bush’s administration that truck sales have started to come down. The same can be said about US CO2 emissions.

    I assume this is an attempt at levity, but for the humor-challenged, this is flat out wrong:

    http://climateprogress.org/2008/08/05/hansens-trip-report-finds-sobering-degree-of-self-deception-in-germany-uk-japan/

    (specifically in this graphic from that article):

    http://climateprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/hansen-coal-jpg.jpg

    Note that US CO2 emissions are at an all time high.

  5. Wonhyo says:

    Toyota’s failure to capitalize on growing Prius demand is the kind of colossal failure I would expect from GM. There must be more to this story.

    Speaking of GM, if they resurrect the Generation 2 EV1 (with NiMH batteries) today, I suspect the EV1 would do quite well in the current market. I know their hopes are pinned on the Chevrolet Volt, but the Volt is still under development, using new-tech batteries, while the EV1 is a proven design.

    I’m most impressed by Aptera, which has an innovative design that really makes fuel efficiency a top design goal, while maintaining the performance and comforts of a normal (by American standards) car. I’m eager to see which drivetrain and battery solution Aptera will implement in their car.

  6. Greg N says:

    To be fair to Toyota, it’s hard for large manufacturers to cope with surges in demand.

    A comparison would be the Nintendo Wii, with shops out of stock for Christmas due to popularity. Or wind turbine manufacturers, who physcially can’t produce enough to meet current demand, leading to long waiting lists.

    Huge companies just aren’t that nimble – which is why it’s vital to act now for what’s in the pipeline for 2018.

  7. Lou Grinzo says:

    Did Toyota not ramp up battery production enough because they failed to plan for the increase in their need, or were they simply unable to increase it quickly enough? The quoted text says the latter, but it came from Toyota, so it could be a CYA move.

    I think it’s premature to conclude that they screwed up.

  8. Pierre Gosselin says:

    Sorry John,
    but you’re wrong. The graphic only looks at coal, gas and oil.
    Now a complate emissions table (sorry in German).
    But I’m sure you most likely can figure it out.
    http://www.iwr.de/klima/ausstoss_welt.html

    As you see, a few people changing their light bulbs in the west will hardly offset China’s enormous emissions gains.

  9. Pierre Gosselin says:

    Scrolling down to the next table, you can see just how green Gore really was when he was VP.
    Gore/Clinton
    1993: 5.6 billion tonnes
    2000: over 6.3 billion
    Rate of increase: approx 900 million tonnes per annum

    Cheney/Bush
    2001: 6.3 billion tonnes
    2006: 6.5 billion tonnes
    Rate of increase: approx 40 million tonnes per year

    CO2 emissions growth during the Gore/Clinton years was more than 20 times more than Bush/Cheney.

    During the Bush years, CO2 emissions indeed began to fall.

    [JR: Like Bush, you make stuff up -- emissions have continued to rise. They have slowed, though, because Bush has had 2 recessions, 9/11, massive outsourcing of U.S. Manufacturing emissions to China, And soaring fossil fuel prices. Something to be proud of!]

    I’ll leave it up to you on what to conclude from all this.

    In general, we can cut back our greenhouse gases all we want. But it will all mean nothing because whatever we cut, China, India etc will offset it 10 times over.

  10. Pierre Gosselin says:

    Overall, you have to admit it. With Gore living high on the hog, consuming 20 times more energy than the average wasteful American, private jet flying all over the globe with his activist Hollywood stars, it really is hard to take this guy more seriously than one would Bozo the Clown.

    [JR: What amazes me is that people think what Gore does have any bearing on the science of global warming.]

  11. Fred Nieuwenhuis says:

    The pure electric vehicles are robbing Peter to pay Paul. Since most of our electricity comes from fossil fuels, the electricity needed to charge the batteries come from fossil fuel powerplants rather than an internal combustion engine. So with the Volt or EV1, it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t according to the AGW cabal.
    Similarly with hydrogen fuel cell cars. Since they emit only water vapor, which is a much worse GHG than CO2, they’re not acceptable either, according to the AGW cabal.
    So, no cars it is.

    [JR: I guess I can't expect people who write comments on this blog to bother actually reading what I have written on the subject. The point is that it is quite straightforward to make carbon-free electricity, that's why plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles are the future.]

  12. Doug says:

    Fred –

    > The pure electric vehicles are robbing Peter to pay Paul …

    I’m tired of people who haven’t paid attention or even taken the time to think about these things repeating garbage like this.

    Here’s a little data for you:

    http://www.teslamotors.com/efficiency/well_to_wheel.php

    This shows that, for the Tesla at least, you’re getting 2x the miles per unit of energy at the well (and presumably CO2 emitted) than for a Prius. And that’s a Prius getting a pretty optimal 55mpg. Granted, that’s assuming the electricity comes from natural-gas generation, but even purely coal-generated power would only incur about 85% of carbon emissions as the Prius (based on some calcs I did, noting that coal is a bit under 2x the carbon emissions than natural gas).

    Even if the use of coal-powered electricity was roughly even with the Prius’s 55mpg mark, having electric cars on the road means that all the new wind and solar power suppliers will have customers already there, waiting to take advantage of zero-emissions power. If everyone were to sit on their asses and wait until *after* all the solar & wind is available before thinking about buying an electric car, we’d lose precious years for everyone to make the switch, leaving ourselves vulnerable to all the problems and dangers associated with our current oil-addicted economy. And making global warming that much worse.

    Get it yet?

  13. John Hollenberg says:

    Pierre, I really can’t argue with someone who thinks that 6.5 is less than 6.3 (taking your numbers at face value). Your entire argument has lost all credibility from this point alone.

  14. David B. Benson says:

    There are now four small taxi companies in this little town.

  15. john says:

    Pierre:

    So why do you make stuff up and lie about this issue? What exactly is it that drives you to such absurdly obvious prevarications? Seriously. I’d like to know.

    Surely you know on this site folks will know you’re lying … or so badly misinformed as to be irrelevant to any real debate. So it can’t be to try to fool us or actually make anyone change their minds.

    It’s a very curious thing. Do you suppose it angers us? Well, no more so than a three year old who stamps his or her feet and insists the boogie man is in the closet.

    You are certainly pathetic. It’s just not clear why you choose to be so.

    And Fred, what’s your game? Do you honestly not understand well-to-wheel calculations on this? It’s OK if you don’t, of course, but then please don’t presume to lecture those who do.

  16. Pierre Gosselin says:

    JR,
    Please look at the 2nd table: This is not made up.
    http://www.iwr.de/klima/ausstoss_welt.html

    US CO2 emissions have begun to go down:
    2005: 6.56 billion tonnes.
    2006: 6.47 billion tonnes

    6.47

  17. Pierre Gosselin says:

    JR,
    Please look at the 2nd table: This is not made up.
    http://www.iwr.de/klima/ausstoss_welt.html

    US CO2 emissions have begun to go down:
    2005: 6.56 billion tonnes.
    2006: 6.47 billion tonnes

    6.47 is less than 6.56. So your assertion that US CO2 emissions are at record levels is patentedly false. Again you’ve been mislead by Hansen & Co. Anyone who looks at the data at the a.m. link can plainly see which administration is really green.
    You can also tell by looking at their homes! (If you wish, I can send you a description of both Gore’s and Bush’s homes).

    Also amazing are the CO2 increases by some pontificating European countries.
    Finally, even if the USA cut its CO2 emissions by a 25% in the next 10 years, China would offset this in just over 1 year!

  18. Pierre Gosselin says:

    Well, maybe 3 or 4 years.

  19. hapa says:

    something else is going on here. little hondas are flying off the shelves like the smaller american models but prius AND corolla sales are flat or falling this year. you don’t LOSE sales year-to-year because you can’t “ramp up” parts manufacturing.

    i talked last night with someone who didn’t follow technology or environmental stuff closely and was told flatly that the highway MPG for a car was its real-world performance. that’s how ads are talking about the cars and that’s probably how many people are reading the numbers. presto! a chevy cobalt is almost a prius! and it’s thousands cheaper!

    very few people know how to figure out how much a car costs to operate but even if they did, i still think the new auto sales picture is one of sticker price and “anti-guzzler” not investing in the future.

    if consumer buying power returns next year, and honda actually delivers its sub-$20K hybrid car, that will clarify.

  20. Pierre Gosselin says:

    Here in Germany I drive a Mercedes 200 CDI diesel and gets about 45 mpg.
    In general you’d have to be nuts and an evil toxic polluter to buy a Prius. The nickel batteries are raw-produced in Canada, and get shipped all over the planet to be refined. Then the Prius has a lifetime of only 100,000 miles. When you compare to a the rugged Hummer, lifetime 300K miles, the Prius is more environmentally harmful. Truly!

    [JR: Yeah, Nickel is really toxic. Better start suing the federal government for poisoning all the people with their coins. The Hummer-Prius nonsense has been widely debunked, including on this blog. since you won't stop repeating long-debunked disinformation, I'm going to start moderating your comments.]

  21. Pierre Gosselin says:

    Germany in general, which is an environmentally conscious country, has very few Prius sales. It’s because of product-lifetime economy and the disposal of the nasty nickel batteries.

  22. Pierre Gosselin says:

    John Hollenberg,
    You have to be happy that there’s something finally going on at your website. Don’t be so aggressive and intolerant to differing views.
    Your website is alive again!

  23. John Hollenberg says:

    > Then the Prius has a lifetime of only 100,000 miles. When you compare to a the rugged Hummer, lifetime 300K miles, the Prius is more environmentally harmful. Truly!

    This has been debunked by our own Joe Romm here:

    http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/8/27/124134/961

    You’ll have to do better if you want to gain any credibility.

  24. exusian says:

    Fred Nieuwenhuis said: “Since they emit only water vapor, which is a much worse GHG than CO2, they’re not acceptable either”

    A concept for Fred to research before he demonstrates his ignorance again: relative and absolute humidity.

  25. exusian says:

    Pierre Gosselin Said: “Then the Prius has a lifetime of only 100,000 miles. When you compare to a the rugged Hummer, lifetime 300K miles, the Prius is more environmentally harmful.”

    Someone’s been reading that manufactured “Dust to Dust” report and actually believing it.

    When you can actually prove that a Prius will last only 100K and when your Hummer actually has 300K on it, then we’ll talk. Truly.

  26. john says:

    Fred:

    Water vapor persists in the atmosphere for a few days, tops. So once you stop introducing water vapor, it works its way out of the system instantly. And as Exusian noted, conditions determine how much can actullay be accomodated and retained in the atmosphere.

    CO2, howevr, persists for centuries. There’s no do-overs if you screw things up.

    But you’re not really being serious. You’re just being an iconoclast, and taking delight in goading people. Either that or you truly are as uninformed as you appear.

    That’s a scary thought.

  27. Evan says:

    Come on guys, you are missing the point. CO2 emissions and global warming are good for growing more tomatoes.

  28. Fred Nieuwenhuis says:

    Ouch, sticks and stones and all that… I am aware of the persistance of various gases. However, most climate scientists agree that the AGW model theory relies strongly on positive feedback associated with water vapor. CO2 gives exponentially diminishing returns of GHG effect with increased concentrations. But the positive feedback loop shows that with CO2 providing the initial global warming which introduces increased concentrations of other GHGs, primarily water vapor, which warms the atmosphere further, which increases GHG concentrations further, primarily water vapor, etc. etc…
    So yes, I was trying to be ironic in my post. But I am anything but ignorant. As such I am also aware that the theory of AGW is anything but a settled science.

  29. shop says:

    Prius sales dropped 37.5 percent in May to 15,011 compared with May 2007. Combined sales of the Escape Hybrid and its stablemate, the Mercury Mariner Hybrid, dropped 26.0 percent to 2,378 last month

  30. porno says:

    Ouch, sticks and stones and all that… I am aware of the persistance of various gases. However, most climate scientists agree that the AGW model theory relies strongly on positive feedback associated with water vapor.