2020 Toyota News from ToyoLand
Toyota US sales pretty good despite virus
Toyota was America’s second best selling brand in the first quarter of 2020, with 495,747 sales, coming in well behind GM (618,335) but close to Ford (514,614) and ahead of Fiat Chrysler’s seven brands (449,113) — in short, a solid third place finish for the quarter. What’s more, Toyota had the best balance, not relying on a single type of vehicle as GM (36%) and Ford (40%) did; and they easily outsold any other import (for example, overall-#5 Honda stood at 298,785).
The best-selling traditional cars in America were both Toyotas—the Camry (77,188, down 6%) and Corolla (69,214, down 12%), easily beating the Civic, Altima, and Accord. Indeed, the Altima and Acord didn't even hit 50,000; the Accord was down by 27%, though it’s a new model. The “one platform” strategy seems to be working better for Toyota than for Honda—though not so much for the Avalon, which fell by 38% to 4,080 sales (the best selling large car in America was the Dodge Charger at 18,628; though the Chrysler 300 is essentially the same car and would add 5,596 to that number).
The Sienna had a very disappointing quarter, but it's due for replacement very soon; it fell by 36% to 11,876, a distant #4 in the minivan market. Chrysler and Dodge were #1 and #2, and each had more than double the Sienna’s sales, but the Odyssey also tumbled. Likewise, in full size pickups, the Tundra fell by 14%, to just 21,658 sales (one could say that's pretty good for a vehicle of the Tundra’s age and lack of competitive specs). Only the Nissan Titan was a lower seller.
Toyota simply dominated crossovers, with the RAV4 coming in way ahead of everyone else—97,631 (up 17%) vs the #2 Equinox’s 73,453 (down 17%) and #3 Honda CR-V (71,186, down 18%). The next best selling crossover/SUV was the Rogue at under 60,000. Toyota claimed the best selling large SUV/CUV as well with the Highlander at 47,890 (down 9%). That was enough to beat both types of Jeep Wrangler combined, and to get #9 on the SUV/CUV sales chart. The Sequoia, which is due for replacement, was a bit player at 1,408, down 42%; and the Land Cruiser, also due for replacement, was good for just 614 sales. The Lexus LX was close at 846.
Finally, Tacoma as always dominated midsize pickups; despite two brand new competitors, the Tacoma managed to hold onto 53,636 sales, more than double the #2 Colorado (21,430). If we combine the Colorado with the identical Canyon, the Tacoma still sold more than double GM’s mid-size pickups.
The next quarter will be bad, but Toyota put itself onto relatively safe ground by maintaining its reputation for safety while redesigning its entire fleet. Expect an increase in market share even as sales fall.
Programming screwup brings 2020 Highlander recall
(March 28, 2020)
Toyota made a mistake when programming its engine computers for the 2020 Highlander, when using the 3.5 liter V6 engine; around 39,000 Highlanders in the U.S. are being recalled as a result, as well as Highlanders in other countries. The issue is in providing fuel after the stop/start system is used. The recall is 20V162 (US) or 20TA06 (Toyota).
(March 16, 2020)
It wasn’t caused by the Toyota Corona! but the COVID-19 coronavirus is hurting Toyota and other automakers. Plants in China were shut down for weeks; there are likely to be parts shortages as the last ships with pre-shutdown parts are unloaded, and, as one would expect, the Chinese auto market — where Toyota is a player – fell dramatically. Japanese sales seem relatively stable, but a global recession is expected to reduce demand everywhere.
Within the United States, a major Toyota sales area, states are declaring curfews and many car dealerships are empty of customers. Toyota announced that it’s going to try to have its own employees work from home where possible — not taking parts home á la Johnny Cash, but having engineers, marketers, and such stay home while the factory workers take breaks at different times so they can maintain a physical distance from each other. The work-at-home part hasn’t been implemented yet (General Motors seems to be the only automaker to be doing that already; the break/lunchtime staggering is more widespread) and the responsibility for making it happen was delegated to VPs, so it might take a while to sort out.
Huge fuel-pump recall adds a million more vehicles
(March 5, 2020)
Toyota has expanded its 700,000-US-vehicle-recall to around 1.8 million vehicles—in the United States alone.
The problem is Denso fuel pumps (Denso was created by Toyota, which still has a major stake in the company); their impeller may absorb fuel and change shape, hitting the fuel pump body and cutting fuel pressure. That can light up the check-engine light, stall at low speed, prevent the engine from starting, cause rough running, or, rarely, stall the engine at higher speeds. Owners who already paid for repairs can get reimbursed; others will get a new fuel pump.
Hybrids are not included for the moment, because they can still run if the fuel pump shuts down, but they will be addressed later. Not all vehicles covered by the recall have the defective fuel pumps.
To check your car for the recall, which covers model years 2013 thorugh 2019, use this NHTSA web site (U.S. cars only).
Newly affected vehicles are:
- Toyota, 2014 FJ Cruiser; 2014-15 4Runner and Land Cruiser; and 2017-19 Sienna
- Lexus, 2013-14 GS, 2013-15 LS, 2014 IS-F, 2014-15 GX, IS, LX; 2015 NX200t and RC 350; 2017 IS 200t, RC200t; and 2017-19 RX 350.
Vehicles affected in the first round were:
- Toyota 2018-19 4Runner, Highlander, Camry, Land Cruiser, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, and Tundra; and Toyota Avalon and Corolla, in all cases built from August 1, 2018 to January 31, 2019.
- Lexus 2018-19 RC, GS, GX, IS, LC, LS, LX; 2019 NX and ES. This is NHTSA recall 20V-012.
Updated “Future” page
(February 24, 2020)
Updated “future Toyotas” page—Tundra, Sequoia, Land Cruiser.
Toyota, Lexus near the top of the most-dependable brands
Toyota and Lexus are, as usual, near the top of J.D. Power’s list of the most dependable car and truck brands. This study looks at the problems experienced by new-car owners over three years, and tends to reflect quality better than their shorter studies.
Genesis, the Hyundai upscale brand, managed to beat everyone, coming in with a score of .089 problems per car; Lexus was #2, with exactly one problem per car, but that's likely within the margin for error (which was not published in the chart).
Among mass-market brands, Buick managed to beat Toyota, coming in as the #3 brand overall (1.03 problems per car), narrowly beating Porsche (1.04) in a statistical dead heat. Toyota came in at #5 (1.13), narrowly beating Volkswagen (1.16).
GM was the real success story, since Toyota has traditionally valued quality and come in at the top, while GM usually ended up average or below average; but Buick was the top mass-market brand, coming in #3 overall, and Chevrolet tied with BMW at 1.23 problems per car. Cadillac came in at 1.31, beating Hyundai, Kia, Audi, Nissan, and, yes, Honda. The only GM brand to do poorly was GMC, which was near the bottom of the list, between Fiat and Volvo. (Volvo is a true story of change as well; the brand used to do far better, but now was the fourth least reliable). Land Rover took up its traditional spot at the bottom. Fiat Chrysler was probably the biggest failure story aside from Volvo, with Chrysler the second worst brand, and Dodge, Jeep, and Fiat well below average (though above GMC, Volvo, and Jaguar). Ram managed to come close to (though below) average, beating Mitsubishi, Mini, Subaru, and, in what must have been a satisfying turn of events, Mercedes.
Toyota is providing an unusually large number of incentives on current (2020) model-year vehicles, as well as higher rebates on the 2019s. According to Cox Automotive, Lexus buyers can get from $1,500 to $4,000 cash back, depending on the model; Toyota Prius Prime and Tundra have rebates from $1,000 to $3,500 based on trim level. The Corolla, Sienna, and Yaris range from $500 to $2,000. Even the new Avalon and Corolla Hybrid have up to $1,500 on the hood; the hot-selling RAV4 and Tacoma go up to $1,250. The only Toyotas without any rebates at all are the 2020 Mirai, 2020 RAV4 Hybrid, and 2020 Highlander (the 2019 versions of the Highlander have rebates of up to $3,000, while the 2019 Mirai has mildly discounted financing rates.)
Coronavirus (Feb 7)
Toyota has shut down twelve assembly plants in China, and will be keeping them closed through February 16 to avoid the spread of the virus.
Chicago Auto Show news (Feb. 6)
The 2021 Toyota Highlander SUV will be the first Highlander to get the XSE badge. Slotted between the XLE and Limited, the XSE has the same 295-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and eight-speed automatic transmission as other Highlanders, and is sold with front or all wheel drive. The XSE is differentiated by higher-rate springs, a different rear stabilizer bar, lower friction shocks, and retuned power steering. The front fascia, grille, and lower spoiler are all special for the model, and the upper grille uses a larger lower air intake integrated into the new bumper. The headlamps are also unique, with black accents and light-strip DRLs. The XSE also has special rocker panels and the first exposed dual-tip exhaust installed on a Highlander. It rounds up with black roof rails, mirror caps, and window moldings.
Inside, the Highlander XSE has black Softex-trimmed seats with fabric inserts, ambient lighting, and carbon-fiber finish on the instrument panel; a red and black leather-trimmed interior with a red-stitched instrument panel is optional. The 1200 watt JBL sound system is standard.
Toyota expects 12% of buyers to get the XSE.
2021 Trail Editions
2021 Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner Trail Editions are coming out this summer, with extra storage and convenience. They are based on the SR5 and have a choice or two or four wheel drive. The Tacoma Trail is a Double Cab, and the Tundra Trail is a Crew Max with the SR5 Upgrade Package (larger fuel tank, front bucket seats with driver’s power lumbar support, front center console, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, three front cupholders, and an anti-theft system with alarm and engine immobilizer).
Trail color choices include Army Green, Cement, Midnight Black, and Super White. Toyota is planning to equip 7,000 Tacomas, 5,000 Tundras and 4,000 4Runners as Trail Editions. They all have black badges and seating with tan stitching, along with all-weather floor liners.
The 2021 Tacoma Trail has gray 18-inch TRD Off-Road wheels with Kevlar all-terrain tires, and the grille from the Tacoma Limited, along with a 115-volt power outlet in the bed and lockable bed storage with insulation on the driver side to double as a cooler. The Tundra Trail has the 1794 Edition grille with color-keyed surround and special-edition wheels, with lockable bed storage/cooler. The 4Runner Trail has dark gray TRD Off-Road wheels and a Yakima LoadWarrior rooftop cargo basket; it also has a custom 40-quart cooler and sliding cargo tray. The cooler comes color-keyed with Cement or Army Green exterior 4Runner colors, while on Super White and Midnight Black 4Runner Trails the cooler is Cement.
Nightshade Special Editions
Toyota already has Nightshade Editions of the Corolla Sedan, Corolla Hatchback, Camry, 4Runner, and Sienna van, most of which are based on the SE. The 2021 Nightshade pickups and Sequoia are built on the Limited, and have black leather-trim seating and black exterior trim, including a darkened chrome grille, black mirror caps and black door handles. All three are sold in 2WD or 4WD.
The Tacoma Nightshade is also distinguished by Dark Smoke 18-inch alloy wheels, black exhaust tip and fog light bezels, and a new grille insert design. The Tundra Nightshade has black wheels and exhaust tip, while the Sequoia Nightshade has darkened chrome badging, body moldings, lower grille, and fog light surrounds.
The Nightshade Editions are sold in Midnight Black Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Windchill Pearl (Tacoma and Tundra), Super White (Tundra), and Blizzard Pearl (Sequoia). Toyota is planning to build 5,000 each of the Tacoma and Tundra Nightshade, and 2,500 Sequoia Nightshade.
No more monthly sales reports (Feb. 3)
Toyota has joined all American automakers in refusing to divulge its U.S. sales every month. BMW, Nissan, and Volkswagen (including Porsche and Audi) have also declared that they will no longer release U.S. sales every month. The leader in the parade was arguably Tesla, which only provided quarterly sales figures; then, in 2018, GM was the first major automaker to stop giving monthly reports. The move will likely help automakers avoid bad press, given that sales are expected to slump over the next two years.
That said, for January, U.S. sales included a 5.5% sales gain at Toyota and 13% at Lexus, thanks to strong light truck sales, which rose by 11%. Traditional cars (sedans and coupes) fell by 1.1%. The Prius Prime, RAV4, Highlander, and Lexus RX all set records for January U.S. sales. The total was 146,244 Toyotas (up from 138,601 in January 2019), and 19,621 Lexii, for 165,865 combined. Honda, incidentally, saw sales drop by 4%, to 101,625, including Acura; while Hyundai-Kia posted a 6.4% gain (to 84,498). Other automakers apparently had record incentive spending, with Jeep getting headlines for $9,000 discounts on the new but overpriced Gladiator pickup. Ford is still trying to clear out Edges and Escapes and is giving $6,000 on the hood to get rid of them.
Important airbag recall, 1-23-2020
Recall 20V033 covers the 1998-2000 RAV4, 1998-99 RAV4 EV, 1998-99 Celica, and 1997-98 Supra, because they have incorrectly made Takata airbags. The recall is expected to start in late March, but the remedy is still being developed. Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-888-270-9371 and ask about recall 20TB01 and 20TA01. Dealers have been notified. Not every vehicle in these ranges may be affected.
Three-million-Toyota recall, 1-22-2020
Toyota is recalling around three million vehicles in the United States alone, as well as their counterparts in other countries, in a move that will likely kick a large hole in their profits (while saving lives). The issue, also affecting a large number of Hondas (not included in the three million), involves the 2011-19 Corolla, 2011-13 Matrix, and 2012-18 Avalon (including hybrids).
The issue is that, in certain crashes, the airbag computer might not work properly, preventing airbags from firing and seat belt pretensioners from working. The problem is not in the computer as such, but in its radio shielding; the fix is to install a noise filter between the computer and the wire harness, preventing interference from other signals.
The recall will begin by March 17, 2020, and has Toyota numbers 20TB03 and 20TA03; or US NHTSA number 20V024.
And now the goofy news (Jan 21)
Toyota has invested roughly $400 million in an electric air-taxi company... perhaps hoping to apply some of their battery/motor tech into cars?
Massive factory re-org (Jan 20, 2020)
Automotive News reported on Toyota’s ongoing $13 billion factory shuffle, which includes a $1.6 billion joint venture with Mazda in Huntsville, Alabama (where many skilled people from Chrysler Electronics, which was shut down by Daimler, are available).
- Toyota recently upgraded a plant in Princeton, Indiana, which makes Highlander crossovers, Sequoias, and Siennas. The Sequoia will move to San Antonio next year, so it will share a plant with the Tundra (which makes sense, given how closely they are related). That will provide space for making more Highlanders and Siennas in Princeton.
- The Tacoma will leave San Antonio to make room for more Tundras and the Sequoia.
- To make enough Tacomas, the Guanajuanto, Mexico Tacoma plant will be expanded or gain an extra shift.
Huge fuel-pump recall
Toyota is recalling nearly 700,000 vehicles in the United States alone, because of a problem with Denso fuel pumps (Denso was created by Toyota, which still has a major stake in the company). Hybrids are not included for the moment, because they can still run if the fuel pump shuts down, but they will be addressed later. Not all vehicles covered by the recall have the defective fuel pumps.
Vehicles affected are the 2018-19 4Runner, Highlander, Camry, Land Cruiser, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, and Tundra; 2018-19 Lexus RC, GS, GX, IS, LC, LS, LX; 2019 Lexus NX and ES; and Toyota Avalon and Corolla, in all cases built from August 1, 2018 to January 31, 2019. This is NHTSA recall 20V-012.
The problem is that the impeller may absorb fuel and deform, causing it to hit the body; that could illuminate the check engine light, cause a stall at low speed, prevent the engine from starting, cause rough running, or, rarely, stall the engine at higher speeds. Toyota hasn't figured out the root cause yet, nor has it developed a final fix. Owners who already paid for repairs can get reimbursed.
TRD Camry, Avalon
New 2020 Camry and Avalon TRD models are here! Essentially, the same engines but heavy suspension tuning and lots of cosmetic effects, as seen below on the Avalon. They come equipped with lots of luxury gear, too.
Toyota, Lexus #1 in quality for 2019 (1-6-2020)
Once again, Lexus and Toyota topped the J.D. Power dependability charts. “Dependability,” a word ironically coined by the Dodge Brothers (when they were indeed very dependable), is essentially defined as long-term reliability—“long term” defined here as “three years.”
Lexus had an average of 1.06 problems per car; Toyota tied with Porsche at 108 problems per car, but topped the “mass market” brands. Chevrolet and Buick, surprisingly, took the #4 and #5 spots. Equally surprisingly, Mini and BMW followed them. The industry average was 1.36 problems per car. Fiat and Land Rover took their usual places at the bottom of the chart, surprisingly accompanied by China-owned Volvo; Dodge and Ram fell near the bottom too, though Chrysler managed to come near the average (above Ford, Honda, Lincoln, Mazda, and Acura, among others).
2019 U.S. Sales (1-2-2020)
Toyota reported that it sold 2.38 million cars in the United States during 2019, down 1.8% from 2018. The company remains the top seller of hybrids, passenger cars, SUVs, and small trucks; and was the best selling retail automaker in the United States (excluding fleet sales). The RAV4 and Tacoma both set new full-year records.
The ever-so-slight increase in Corolla sales is actually a triumph, given that sedan and hatchback sales have been falling rather dramatically in the United States. The Corolla easily outsold all Fiat Chrysler sedans combined, for example; and the Camry and Avalon, which share a great deal of engineering and parts, are icing on the cake. Camry sales fell by just 2% for the year, which again is not bad in face of a sector collapse. Prius sales fell by 20%, partly because of the new Corolla Hybrid, and largely because gasoline prices in the United States are at historic lows, and “green” Americans have a range of electric cars to choose from.
In some ways, the most interesting parts of the sales chart are the rare cars: the Mirai, 86/FR-S, and Supra, whose sales can now be seen.
This is not the first year that Toyota SUVs beat Toyota car sales, but it’s worth noting that the RAV4 was again far, far above the Corolla and Camry in sales; indeed, if you pit it against Toyota’s best selling car and Fiat Chrysler’s best selling car, combined, the RAV4 would still outsell both. The bigger Highlander, down by just 2%, is still selling quite well, in a very crowded segment; it ran just about neck-and-neck with the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer. The Sienna minivan fell by 16%, not as bad as the Chrysler Pacifica (down 17%) and Dodge Caravan (down 19%), but also not enough to gain even a #2 position. The 4Runner isn't doing respectably well but not causing Jeep execs to lose much sleep.
In pickups, the Tacoma continues to grow despite new competition from GM and Ford, with just under a quarter million sold; the Tundra continues to lose ground, though, in an expanding market, down 6%. The fact that it beat a hundred thousand sales is actually impressive, given the dated and noncompetitive powertrain. Still, America’s #3, Ram, beat it 633,694 to 111,673 (a mildly unfair comparison since Ram includes heavy duty pickups and chassis-cabs, but neither GM nor FCA break out pickup sales at all).
Overall, it was a good year for Toyota. Many feared the company would be badly hurt by the sudden move from sedans to crossovers and pickups, but Toyota’s RAV4 and Highlander grabbed a great deal of the market, and the Corolla and Camry are still doing well—though Toyota is likely not making nearly as much money from them as in the past, since they’re now heavily loaded with features. Lexus in particular seems to have weathered the storm very well; it gave up around 12,000 car sales but gained around 12,000 truck sales and ended up even. See an overview of sales for all major companies the U.S. and, from the same site, this look at Toyota vs all the American companies.
Recalls: C-HR, Corolla/Corolla Hybrid, Prius
Recall #19V877000: Toyota is recalling around 10,000 2019-2020 C-HR, 2020 Corolla, and 2020 Corolla Hybrids because the rear seat belts may not lock properly. Customers with questions can call 888-270-9371. The recall is to start by February 3, 2020.
Recall #19V876000: Around 4,000 2019 Toyota Prius hybrids are being recalled because they may have a short-circuit in the gauge cluster, causing the speedometer and fuel gauge to blank out. The fix is replacing a bad ROM chip. The recall starts around February 3, 2020.
2020 Highlander boasting 24% economy boost
The 2020 Toyota Highlander will take on the Ford Explorer and other midsize SUVs, with a standard 295-horsepower V6 engine hooked up to an eight-speed automatic; combined fuel economy is anticipated to be 23-24 mpg (combined). The hybrid, though, is the clever choice, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with dual electric motors rated at a combined 240 horsepower—and 36 mpg, combined. That’s more power and far more economy than the hybrid Highlander it’s replacing (though part of the increase may be because buyers can get either front or all wheel drive with their hybrids). The center touch screen will be either 8 or 12.3 inches, depending on trim level, and a host of safety systems will be standard across the board. Pricing starts at $35,720 with V6, $1,400 more with hybrid. (Source: Automotive News.)
Headlight recall on Supra (December 12)
BMW is recalling 2020 Toyota Supras, because the headlight control unit might fail, resulting in the headlights going out. BMW will replace the controllers. Only 245 cars are affected, incluiding the BMW Z4 and 330i—but it affects every car in that group. Nearly all of the cars are Supras—177 Supras and just 37 BMWs are affected. That might not be an indicator of sales, because BMW went back through the records to see where the badly made controllers were installed (Lear, the supplier, discovered debris in their production equipment). The problem was first discovered in late July 2019; ten failures occured before the recall decision was made in late November.
November 2019 US Sales (December 5)
November 2019 was a good month for Toyota USA, which went from 190,423 sales in Nov. 2018 to 207,857 sales this year; the company was still down somewhat for the year, but with 2.18 million sales year-to-date, there’s no question but that Toyota has done well for 2019 compared with other companies (by comparison, Nissan/Mitsubishi recorded 1.35 million, Honda checked in with 1.47 million, and Volkswagen failed to even hit 600,000). Toyota remains the best-selling import company in the United States by a wide margin.
Corolla sales rose for the year as the cars were dramatically improved, with 281,108 sales year-to-date; it was outsold by the Civic, with 302,737 sales, but trounced all other compact imports, such as the Mazda3 (47,566) and Golf/GTI (34,729). The Camry, which had been America’s best-selling car for years, finished up November with 310,669 sales, trouncing the Accord’s 247,885; the Sonata’s 80,361; and Mazda6’s under-20,000 sales.
Toyota’s best seller, year-to-date, was the RAV4, with a stunning 406,789 sales—more than the Tacoma (228,074) and Tundra (102,9659) put together. The #2 and #3 were, as noted, the Camry and Corolla. The next over-200,000 vehicle was the Highlander, with 218,989 sold—all but one made in the USA.
In other niches, the Sienna will clearly not be winning the minivan sales race with just 68,409 YTD sales—down by 12,500 from last year. The Sequoia isn’t exactly challenging GM in large SUVs, either, with 9,413 sales. The 4Runner did better, at 120,359. The Prius lost some sales to the (similar) Corolla Hybrid, turning in 63,660 sales—still a good number. Fewer than 21,000 people bought a Yaris and under 26,000 bought an Avalon.
Lexus registered 73,389 traditional-car sales, down by 10,000 from the same period last year; but it made up for it with sales of 189,400 trucks and SUVs, up by 10,000. The most popular by far was the RX, with 96,967 sales, followed by the NX with 50,760; in cars, most of the sales were the ES, with 46,311 of 73,389 total. The GS, LC, LS, and RC barely registered. Lexus checked in with 262,789 sales year to date, behind BMW (324,072) and Mercedes (323,130), but well ahead of Audi (198,261).