Toyota Surpasses Ford as No. 2 U.S. Auto Seller in July

As Its Sales Jump 16.2%, Ford's Drop 34%

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DETROIT ( -- July was a very good month for Toyota Motor Sales USA. While the overall U.S. auto industry's new vehicle sales dropped by 14% in July, Toyota surprised analysts with a 16.2% jump in sales of Toyota, Scion and Lexus models.
Toyota Motor sales in July pushed it past Ford to become, for the first time ever, America's No. 2 car marketer. | ALSO: Comment on this article in the 'Your Opinion' box below.
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426 units
The 241,826 units Toyota Motor sold last month was just enough to sneak past Ford Motor Co. for the No. 2 slot by just 426 units. For Toyota, its July sales translated to a record market share of 16.2% for the month, according to a report today from Merrill Lynch.

Ford Motor Co.'s stable of brands saw combined sales slip by 34% to 241,339 units, compared with July 2005, when Detroit's three carmakers drove the industry to its best-ever month of 1.8 million vehicles sold.

But Toyota has not been immune to the consumer's declining appetite for big pickups and sport utilities. Toyota Division reported sales drops compared with a year ago for its Tundra full-size pickup (down 4% to 10,285 units); Sequoia big SUV (down 36% to 2,653 units); Highlander SUV (down 12% to 11,999); and Land Cruiser SUV (down 45% to 238 units).

Toyota trucks
Still, the automaker said its Toyota truck division saw its best July ever, increasing by 8% to 84,758 units comparedwith o a year ago, led by the small RAV4 SUV and 4Runner.

Overall, the Toyota division posted its best sales month, 214,867 units for a 17.7% jump from July 2005. The automaker said Corolla led the boost with a jump of 42% in July to 41,800 units. Sales of the Prius hybrid increased by 19% to 11,115 units.

"Market conditions are playing to traditional Toyota strength of fuel efficiency, strong passenger car offerings as well as our comprehensive hybrid lineup," Jim Lentz, exec VP of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said in a prepared statement.

'Really on its game'
"Toyota is really on its game," said Susan Jacobs, president of auto consultancy Jacobs & Associates. "Ford is heavily weighted to trucks and has no plan that I can see."

In January, Ford announced "Way Forward," its second North American revitalization plan since 2002. On July 20, Chairman-CEO William Ford said the carmaker would accelerate the plan and reveal details of the tweaked strategy in a couple of months.
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