Toyota eyes No. 1

Jocelyn Ford Aug 4, 2006


SCOTT JAGOW: Right now, Toyota is the Godzilla of carmakers. It’s crushing its American competition with extreme prejudice. Today, Toyota said its profits were up 39 percent last quarter, that’s compared to a year ago. Once again, the big reason: More Americans bought Toyotas. Jocelyn Ford reports.

JOCELYN FORD: Toyota’s roaring profits are another sign that the company is speeding toward replacing General Motors as the world’s biggest carmaker.

Auto Analyst Chris Richter says they might reach that goal post next year.

CHRIS RICHTER: “They are beating back their uncompetitive American rivals, which is allowing them to gain quite a bit of market share with superior pricing.”

Last month, for the first time Toyota outsold Ford in the United States. Richter says the Japanese automaker is doing a lot right.

RICHTER: “I mean, where do you start? They keep the product line up newer, they introduce more models., they have more efficient production.”

Higher gas prices also help Toyota capitalize on its reputation for fuel efficiency.

Richter says the hybrid Prius isn’t yet adding a lot to profits because it’s expensive to make. But it does help Toyota market itself as the car of choice for drivers who want to save money at the pump.

I’m Jocelyn Ford for Marketplace.

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