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Auto blogFri, 27 Sep 2013
Eleven months after Toyota claimed the 2012 sales crown a couple of months early thanks to the Camry, the headlines this year have been quite a bit different to last. Even though the Camry remains the best selling car so far in 2013 and its volume has increased year-on-year, it has lost market share due to the 20-percent sales explosion in the midsize segment. That means people are buying more of the competitor offerings like the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion - the Altima, in fact, outsold the Camry by 100 units in March.
In July it was reported that Toyota was upping Camry incentives and fleet sales to keep its lead and that dealer inventory was climbing as, again, competitors got better at fighting the champion. In August Ford doubled down on production of the Fusion, adding a line in Flat Rock, MI to keep up with demand.
Bloomberg has a report looking at the numbers behind the Camry's dominance, as well as what appears to be a recorded group interview with Toyota USA CEO Jim Lentz, and wonders aloud whether the Camry will be able to hold its top spot in 2014. Barring catastrophe it has this year locked up, being more than 30,000 sales ahead of the next-best seller as of the end of August, but it has done so with higher incentives and lower transaction prices than its competitors. According to Strategic Vision the Camry's consideration rate among consumers has also declined by a percentage point, while the consideration rate for the Accord and Fusion has increased by one point and two points, respectively.
Toyota is now one step closer to putting its unintended acceleration woes behind it as it has received approval from the US District Court for the Central District of California to settle loss-of-value claims to vehicles associated with the 2009-2010 recalls.
As we reported back in May, the Toyota settlement is worth $1.63 billion, which, according to Bloomberg, includes a payout of $757 million to affected owners, $227 million to attorneys and an additional $875 million for vehicle upgrades. (We did the math, too, and that totals $1.859 billion, but there is no justification for the discrepancy. Fuzzy math, eh?)
Based on the estimated 22.6 million vehicles said to be included in this suit, that would make the average payment about $33.49 per vehicle, but the article says that owners, lessees and even renters will receive varying amounts ranging from $9.74 up to as much as $10,000. This settlement does not affect suits filed for personal injury or wrongful death.
Don't you just hate when your neighbors' mess becomes your problem? Toyota certainly has good reason to be upset, after an dirty mishap at a steel mill delayed thousands of vehicle exports from its nearby port in Nagoya, Japan, (pictured above) by as much as a month.
The messy situation occurred on June 22 when the mill near the port lost power and had to burn off an excess buildup of coke oven gas - which isn't exactly a situation friendly to living beings or the environment. According to Automotive News, it caused a massive amount of smoke to emit from the plant that fell as soot and tar on about 23,000 vehicles that were waiting to be shipped out. Getting the models properly cleaned off has been quite a task. A team of 5,000 workers were at the port until this week getting them gleaming again.
Potential Toyota buyers in North America have no need to fret about getting a sullied car, though. A Toyota spokesperson told Automotive News that none of the vehicles were bound for this continent. The automaker is reportedly considering asking the mill's owners for reimbursement for the cost of the weeks of cleanup. Paying for the mistake is, after all, the neighborly thing to do.