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Toyota SVP says company expects strong 2013

Toyota expects auto sales across all manufacturers to reach 15.3 million units in 2013.

That was one of the points Toyota Motor Sales senior vice president Bob Carter made Tuesday at the J.D. Power/National Automobile Dealers Association’s Automotive Forum.

That would represent an increase in total sales of about 4 percent over 2012.

Carter said the sales outlook for the next few years is even better, tracking toward 16 million units.

He said the growth is a symptom of what he called a continually improving economy. Carter cited lower unemployment rates, higher consumer confidence and stock prices and increases in manufacturing and construction.

“Last year, the economy grew on average about two-percent, and this year will probably be about the same,” said during his speech at the industry forum. “Fortunately, we believe the auto industry will grow even more than the economy in 2013.”

Total industry sales for the first two months of sales in 2013 are2.2 million units, almost 9 percent more than the same period last year, Carter said. Toyota’s three major brands – Toyota, Scion and Lexus — sold over 324,100 vehicles in that time, a 14.1 percent increase from a year ago, and nearly double the industry growth, Carter said.

“And we expect a lot of that growth to be in hybrids, small trucks and retail sales, areas of strength for Toyota,” Carter said. “So we believe we’re poised for another solid year.”

Several things will drive that, Carter said. Pent-up demand is one, with the average age of the U.S. auto fleet reaching a record high of 11 years old, according to industry figures. Historically low rates for car loans is another, Carter said.

“Younger buyers are returning to the market at a higher rate than any other age category, which bodes well for market longevity and for all of us,” he said.

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