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Lexus sales speed up as Toyota stalls in January

January was a down month for Toyota and Scion, but Lexus is still accelerating.

In January of 2014 Lexus’ sales increased by about nine percent. Conversely, Toyota’s sales declined overall by that same percentage. Toyota is coming off a big growth year and Bill Fey at Toyota predicted the return to a lower annual sales volume. Before the Toyota haters get too excited, the company was still the number one retail brand. More individuals and families chose a Toyota than any other vehicle in America in January. Here is Torque News’ breakdown of what sold, what did not, and why.

Lexus Sales Surge
The Lexus IS is still crushing sales expectations and its sales were up 120% over last January before the new model arrived. The RX did well, but interestingly, the ES did not. Lexus says that weather played a role in the sales mix and we believe it since in the Western US sales of Lexus vehicles were up a shocking 35%. We hesitate to read too much more into the Lexus month given the weather impacts.

Toyota Sales Down
Toyota pins its sales slump on the weather saying the sales rate was good before weather played a role in reduced dealership traffic in late January. Also, the company claims a reduction in fleet sales lowered its numbers. Perhaps all true, but the Camry was off 27% and the Prius off by 23%. We will know in February if that is an indicator of the year to come or not. All-wheel drive Toyotas did pretty well. Tundra sales were up, as were the RAV 4 (up 45%), and the Highlander (Up 21%). Most of the Highlanders were 2013 models as the 2014s are just now rolling out.

Scion Continues Its Decline
Scion is still floundering with sales 18 percent behind last January. The FR-S sold under just 921 units. When we reported last fall that Toyota executives had given Toyota dealers the green light to drop Scion if they wanted to we thought that seemed unlikely, but Scion does not have a hit right now. Not one of its cars is a legitimate sales success. Toyota is also introducing sports cars under the Lexus brand (RC 350 and RC F) and Toyota name (FT-1). Every Scion in the company’s line up had a decline this past month over last January. iQ and xD are basically dead models now. Scion is the broken toy bin of the Toyota playroom.

Toyota says that only a few nameplates in America (meaning brands) were up in January. Nissan is one. It will be interesting to see how the February results look. Until then we will hold off on saying Toyota has lost ground to its competitors.


Marvin McConoughey (not verified)    February 16, 2014 - 8:51PM

Toyota made a mistake when it made its passenger cars ride harder and isolate road noise less. The mistake was top-down driven by current Toyota boss, Toyoda.

John Goreham    February 17, 2014 - 8:36AM

Thank you for adding that Mr. McConoughey. I agree that all the Toyota brands ride too harshly when the top spec tires and rims are applied. Not sure what prompted you to mention it, but we have been saying the same in other stories lately, most notably about the RAV 4.