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Toyota and other U.S. automakers see sales plummet in February, but the San Antonio-built Tundra is a bright spot

Toyota and other U.S. automakers see sales plummet in February, but the San Antonio-built Tundra is a bright spot

Toyota and other U.S. automakers saw sales decline in February amid continued production slowdowns, including a cyberattack that forced Toyota to shut down all of its Japanese factories earlier this week.

The Toyota-built Tundra pickup in San Antonio was a bright spot for the Japanese automaker, with full-size truck sales 15% higher than a year ago. Toyota has ramped up production of the new 2022 model after ceasing production of its older version last fall.

Toyota dealers sold 6,731 Tundras in February, the best sales month for the truck since October. Toyota plans to start building the Sequoia full-size SUV in San Antonio this summer, but hasn’t started yet. The company sold just over 100 Sequoia models last month.

Overall, Toyota’s North American sales fell 11% in February from the same month a year ago, in line with the decline in sales felt across the industry, Cox Automotive data shows. .

“The omicron wave of COVID has receded and economic activity is picking up accordingly. But retail vehicle sales were disappointing in February,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox.

Issues such as coronavirus outbreaks and semiconductor shortages have resulted in lower production at Toyota factories so far this year.

In Japan, Toyota factories recorded a 32% drop in production in January. Earlier this week, a cyberattack on one of Toyota’s parts suppliers affected production at all of Toyota’s 14 Japanese factories before it announced the resumption of operations on Wednesday. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the country was investigating whether Russia was involved in the attack.

In the United States, Toyota’s production in January fell 18% compared to the same month last year.

The production cuts have hit the company’s South Side plant, where Toyota cut production in half in late January due to COVID-19 cases and parts shortages.

Similar issues have plagued other automakers, and a trucker-led blockade of a key trade crossing on the Canada-U.S. border hit domestic automakers last month.

Overall, the inventory of new cars for sale in the United States was 1.08 million as of January 31, down 60% from a year earlier, when there were nearly 2.7 million new vehicles on dealer lots, according to Cox.

But car buyers were relieved last month when the price paid for a new vehicle fell to $46,400. The average price was slightly lower than in December, when the average price paid for a new vehicle in the United States topped $47,000 for the first time.

Before January, the price of a new car had increased for nine consecutive months.

Smoke also attributed part of last month’s sales decline to this year’s abnormal tax filing season. Only 17% of scheduled tax refunds had been issued by Feb. 18, when nearly 40% of refunds have typically been distributed by that date, Cox reported.

On the other hand, the average refund issued has been higher so far this year, suggesting auto sales could pick up in March when consumers have more cash, Smoke said.

“Tax refunds will come,” he said. “So we’re expecting a very strong tax refund season, it won’t start until March this year rather than February.”

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