Bad news for Detroit recovery: Toyota's business gets worse
Toyota (TM) is supposed to be the most successful car company in the world. It is certainly the No.1 manufacturer and, by many measures, it makes the most reliable cars. Its model line-up is as broad as any car company's, with the possible exception of GM (GM). It is probably safe to say that if Toyota's global sales are getting worse, then no other big car company is seeing any sign of recovery.
According toBloomberg, "The company's output plunged 53 percent to 358,573 vehicles in February from the year-ago period." The number is absolutely stunning and is a sign that the sales of light vehicles may actually be getting worse in early 2009 than they were in 2008, which was a disastrous year.
If the U.S. government thinks that it can pull Chrysler and GM out of their current troubled states by investing only another $22 billion, it is mistaken. Chrysler car sales in the U.S. are running down 50 percent. Figures for other big auto companies doing business in America are not much better. There has been some hope that sales in Asia, Latin America, and Europe might soften the blow in the U.S. market. The Toyota numbers say otherwise.
Anyone betting on a global car sales recovery in 2009 needs to have his head examined.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.