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Indicators: March 10

Still Moving

March 10, 2010, 12:00 am

1,493 is the number of Toyotas recalled in northern New Mexico, according to Matt Calavan, the general manager of Beaver Toyota of Santa Fe.

Last November, Toyota issued a recall of more than 4 million vehicles with potential accel-erator problems, resulting in public apologies, congressional hearings and unexpected market gains for American automakers. But in Santa Fe, according to the only Toyota dealer here, things stayed about the same.

In the chart above, the red bar represents the percentage of cars sold in the US in February 2009 that were Toyotas—just shy of 16 percent. But the company’s US market share tanked this February, declining to 12.8 percent (blue bar).

Meanwhile, in Santa Fe, sales have stayed steady, Matt Calavan, the general manager for Beaver Toyota of Santa Fe, says. Here, a healthy 21 percent of new and used cars sold are Toyotas (green bar).

“What we hear from customers is not what you hear in the national media,” Calavan says. “They’re not panicked. It’s been quite interesting how loyal they’ve remained to Toyota despite the negative coverage.”

Though US Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, has hammered Toyota in congressional hearings, his communications director, Marissa Padilla, tells SFR that relatively few recall complaints have come from New Mexico.

“What we do know is that there are approximately 160,000 registered Toyotas in New Mexico,” Padilla says—including Udall’s Prius.

“It’s a huge consumer protection issue,” Padilla says, and declining sales—she says Toyota sales sunk 9.5 percent in January and are expected to have declined another 20 percent in February—could mean hard times for New Mexico’s Toyota dealers.

But Calavan says he sold as many Toyotas this February as he did last year. He calls the coverage of Toyota’s problems overblown.

“I don’t know why it’s been such a sensationalized story, but it shouldn’t be,” Calavan tells SFR. “It’s discouraging.”


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