Now You Know It's Bad: Toyota May Miss U.S. Sales Targets

The Super-Best Automaker from the Land of the Rising Sun is backing away from forecasts that show an annual increase in U.S. sales over last year. Despite massive demand for the smug-forming Prius, Toyota's plans for world domination are getting bogged down in the Tundra, since the same market forces decimating demand for domestic trucks are affecting the full-size Toyota offerings. The company now says it will likely be unable to improve upon the 2.62 million vehicles it sold in the U.S. during 2007. But, lest you think that the automotive world is going all topsy-turvy on you, the AP makes sure to point out that domestic automakers are faring much, much worse.

Toyota was hoping to capitalize on strong demand in countries such as China and Russia to help it achieve global sales of 9.85 million units. But the company has been forced to slow its full-size truck and SUV assembly plants in Texas and Indiana to prevent unsold inventory from piling up, a problem domestic manufacturers are trying to avoid by aggressively cutting shifts and extending plant downtime.

While Toyota's announcement is more bad news during an already bad quarter, the revised forecast has to be music to the ears of Motown executives accustomed to "Teflon Toyota;" the company has announced several recent recalls that appear have had little impact on its brand perception. However, some analysts speculate that Toyota's revised sales forecast may simply be a red herring, designed to lull Americans into thinking it's suffering alongside them during the current economic crisis when in reality the company is buying time to finish work on its plutonium breeder reactor.