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Toyota Needs More Factories and Dealers to Become Permanent Number Three: Paper

September 11, 2003

Toyota might have beaten the Chrysler group in monthly U.S. sales for the first time in August, but it needs more North American factories and dealers to surpass Chrysler on a permanent basis, the Detroit News reported.According to the paper, Toyota chairman Hiroshi Okuda told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington on Sept. 10: "The fact that we were number three in August for one month does not mean we can rest easy. We will try our best to be really number three."According to the Detroit News, Okuda noted that Toyota's total U.S. sales continued to lag behind all of DaimlerChrysler, which includes the Chrysler group and Mercedes-Benz.In remarks after the speech, according to the News, Toyota's senior vice president for North American operations, James Olsen, said the Chrysler group has two and a half times as many U.S. dealers as Toyota, with 1,400 outlets, and Chrysler is still 350,000 sales units ahead of Toyota for the year. To bridge the sales gap, Toyota would require another car assembly plant besides the one under construction in Texas, Olsen reportedly said."We would have to have two new plants," Olsen said, according to the paper, adding: "We're busy building one right now. We have a lot on our plate, and we'll have to grow a lot to catch up."The News said Okuda used the Washington speech to American business leaders to underscore the growing presence of Toyota in the United States.In the 20 years since Toyota began manufacturing in the United States, in a joint venture with GM in California [New United Motor Manufacturing, or NUMMI, in Fresno], Toyota has expanded output there to include nine cars and trucks, the paper noted.According to the News, Okuda said Toyota's total U.S. investment stands at $14 billion, with the carmaker's U.S. factories now producing 1.2 million cars and trucks, a million engines and 361,000 transmissions.
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