Toyota brass sees more strong U.S. sales, but must adapt product mix

Carter predicts RAV4 will overtake Camry within five years

Carter predicts RAV4 will overtake Camry within five years

DETROIT — Automakers can count on robust vehicle sales in 2016, but will be challenged to produce the right mix of cars and trucks as consumers gravitate to larger and roomier vehicles, Toyota executives said today.

No so long ago, trucks and SUVs made up less than half of the U.S. market. But low gas prices and the emergence of crossovers has sparked a dramatic shift, and last month 60 percent of the new vehicles Americans purchased were classified as light trucks.

Automakers will have to adjust their production plans and manufacturing capacity in order to prosper amid the rapid swing to trucks, said Bob Carter, senior vice president of Toyota’s U.S. auto operations.

“Now it’s who can meet consumer needs the quickest,” Carter told Automotive News in an interview today. “The [manufacturer] who can fill that needs is probably going to win.”

November provided a snapshot of what manufacturers are facing. Overall sales rose 1.2 percent to 1.32 million vehicles.

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