Light truck sales drop 25%, Toyota screws up

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.

The 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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