Toyota outsells Fiat Chrysler, seeks more truck output

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. posted a 16 percent year-over-year sales increase last month that resulted in its best September since 2007.

The Toyota Highlander was up 17 percent to 12,310 units, and the RAV4 rose 19 percent to 27,104; both set September records.

Lexus achieved its 24th consecutive monthly gain, up 16 percent to 25,294 units. Toyota brand sales totaled 162,595, up 15 percent.

Scion, with sales surging 57 percent to 6,510 vehicles, ended a skid with its best month in more than two years. Two new nameplates, the iA and iM, accounted for slightly more than half of the brand’s volume in September. The brand’s monthly U.S. sales had skidded 27 straight months year over year through August.

In contrast to a 19 percent increase in car sales, Toyota’s pickups fell 5.2 percent. Sales fell 3.2 percent for the recently redesigned Tacoma and 7.9 percent for the larger Tundra.

Toyota executives said the company ran low on pickup inventories last month and is working on getting more in the pipeline to dealers, which currently have less than a 15-day supply of both nameplates.

“Overall, our manufacturing partners have kept up with this increase in the industry,” Bill Fay, general manager of Toyota Division, told reporters on a conference call.

“When you start running at four out of five months above 17.5 [million-unit selling rate], and this month looks like it’s going to be over 18, there’s going to be gaps in every manufacturer’s lineup,” Fay said. “When the market shifts that much, we’re all reacting the best we can.”

Sales of both the Camry and Corolla jumped more than 20 percent. Sales of the Prius hybrid lineup rose 13 percent, including a 20 percent gain for the standard sedan and a 10 percent decline for the Prius v.

Jeff Bracken, general manager of Lexus, said the redesigned RX crossover will begin arriving at dealerships this month and keep the brand on pace for its best year ever.

Lexus sales are up 12 percent through the first three quarters, compared with a 3.5 percent year-to-date increase for Toyota Division.

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