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Toyota may fall in sales ranks

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Toyota may fall in sales ranks

Analysts foresee fewer purchases of brand, with Ford and Honda benefiting most

Christine Tierney / The Detroit News

Toyota Motor Corp.'s big recalls could cost the Japanese automaker a point of market share or more this year, say analysts who predict Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. will benefit the most from Toyota's troubles.

"It now seems clear that Ford will overtake Toyota to reclaim its position as the second biggest automaker in the U.S. market," Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at automotive research firm Edmunds.com, said Thursday.

Ford lost its longtime U.S. second-place ranking in 2008.

Edmunds expects Toyota's U.S. market share to fall this year to 16.45 percent from 17 percent in 2009. Prior to the Jan. 21 recall of 2.3 million Toyota vehicles to fix accelerator pedals that could stick, Edmunds forecast its share would rise to 17.6 percent.

Nissan Motor Co., South Korea's fast-growing Hyundai Motor Co. and General Motors Co. also are likely to take some of Toyota's lost sales, analysts said.

"This recall crisis will probably cost Toyota at least one percentage point of market share in the U.S.," said Jesse Toprak, an analyst at pricing firm TrueCar.com. He estimates Toyota's share this year will fall to 16 percent.

Based on 2009 sales, a point of market share represents just over 100,000 light vehicles.

Toyota officials say the recalls are affecting sales but it's too early for the company to assess the full-year impact.

Deutsche Bank analyst Kurt Sanger said the loss of one point of share would cost the company between $900 million and $1 billion in annual pre-tax earnings.

Sanger's estimate did not include the effects of declining pricing power resulting from damage to the Toyota brand and higher discounts this year.

Most analysts estimate Toyota's incentives will rise to $2,000 per vehicle, on average, from about $1,400 last year.

Toyota dealers are offering cash, loyalty coupons of around $500, and low financing rates to retain customers. But analysts say Detroit rivals have increased incentives even more to capture prospective Toyota customers.

Toyota's market share is expected to drop dramatically in February because the company can't sell recalled models until pedals have been checked and repaired.

Depending on how fast its U.S. dealers can make the repairs, Toyota could lose anywhere from three to nine points of market share this month, Toprak said.

Analysts did not venture to estimate how Toyota would fare beyond this year. If the repairs are carried out smoothly, and no more issues surface, its position in the market may stabilize next year, Toprak said.

Investment firm J.P. Morgan shares that view. "We think Toyota's recalls will affect its U.S. market share in the near term, but they are unlikely to have a material impact in the long term," it said. "Toyota's share losses will primarily accrue to Honda and, perhaps Nissan and Hyundai."

Edmunds believes GM, Ford and Honda will pick up most of Toyota's lost sales, while Toprak predicts Honda and Ford will be the biggest beneficiaries.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has said he now expects more consumers to put Ford models on their consideration list.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100212/AUTO01/2120348/1148/auto01/Toyota-may-fall-in-sales-ranks#ixzz0fL7wLnFF

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