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Toyota U.S. Sales In March Up 15.4% - Update

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Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., a part of Toyota Motor Corp. (TM: Quote), Tuesday reported its best March U.S. sales in four years, growing a healthy 15.4 percent as customers bought more of its hybrid Prius and Camry, SUVs RAV4 and Highlander, and pickups such as Tacoma and Tundra.

The results come amid signs of a economic recovery led mainly by a resurgence in manufacturing activity that seems to have strengthened consumer confidence. This along with cost conscious customers opting for fuel efficient cars saw leading car makers register positive growth for the month. Earlier today, Chrysler Group LLC posted a 34 percent rise in U.S. sales for March, while General Motors Co. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (F) grew 12 and 5 percent respectively.

Toyota in March 2012 had 28 selling days, compared to 27 days last year. Adjusting for the difference, U.S. sales grew 11.2 from last year.

The automaker sold 203,282 units in the U.S. during March, compared to 176,222 units in the same period last year.

Toyota operates under two divisions, one being its namesake and the other, Lexus.

Toyota Division sales in March grew 17.7 percent from last year to 183,142 units, while Lexus Division edged down 2.6 percent to 20,140 units.

Toyota Division cars sales rose nearly 24 percent from last year to 113,135 units. Volume increases were due mainly to Prius and Camry that surged 54.3 and 35.3 percent respectively. Among smaller volume brands, Scion series grew about 21 percent, and Yaris and Avalon were up 25 percent each. Corolla sales slipped 6.4 percent.

Lexus Division car sales rose 9.3 percent from last year to 11,477 units. Growth was due mainly to a six-fold rise in sales of Lexus GS luxury sedan, while ES and IS categories fell 15.8 and 8 percent respectively.

Meanwhile, Toyota Division trucks sales grew 9 percent from last year to 70,007 units. Leading the fray was RAV4 compact SUV that grew 8 percent, while the Highlander rose 12.4 percent. Tacoma mid-size pickup was up 23.7 percent, and Tundra full-size pickup grew 14.4 percent.

Lexus Division trucks sales slid nearly 15 percent to 8,663 units, reflecting strong erosion in RX sales.

For the first quarter, the automaker reported sales of 487,284 vehicles, up 12.3 percent from last year on an unadjusted basis.

TM is trading at $86.20, down $0.49 or 0.57%, on a volume of 0.2 million shares on the NYSE.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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