In August, Toyota (red line) briefly replaced GM (blue) as the US industry leader. Last month, however, its recall problems meant its sales fell 16% versus last January, an even worse performance than Chrysler (purple).
Toyota’s problems are generally bad news for the industry, as they will inevitably impact overall public perceptions. Some will suspect that hard times have caused auto manufacturers to cut back on vital spending. This is particularly disturbing as Toyota was one of the Japanese companies who pioneered the development of Total Quality programmes, and helped export them to the west.
Overall (black line), US auto sales ran at a 10.8m annual rate. This is better than last year’s actual total of 10.3m. But it is still a long way from the steady sales picture during the 1995 – 2007 period, when the chemical industry could count on a minimum of 15m sales, worth c$45bn in terms of chemical sales (in 2010 money).