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Toyota Tundra, made in San Antonio, had a great sale in September.

Toyota Tundra, made in San Antonio, had a great sale in September.

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio-built Toyota Tundra pickup had one of its best sales since 2020 in September, as the automaker saw overall sales soar.

Toyota said US sales were up 17 percent from a year earlier, more than double the industry-wide 8 percent increase in monthly sales. Toyota’s surge was largely due to poor sales a year ago, when a global shortage of computer chips prevented automakers from building enough cars to meet demand. The deficit is narrowing and Toyota’s 10 plants in the US reported a 12 percent increase in production in August.

Dealers sold 9,817 full-size tundra trucks last month, up 11 percent from a year earlier. It was the truck’s third-best-selling month since 2020. Toyota began production of the redesigned 2023 Tundra here late last year.

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In late August, Toyota also began building the full-size Sequoia SUV in San Antonio. The startup covered a three-year $391 million expansion at the South Side plant to build the large SUV and pickup truck on the same production line. The earlier generation Sequoia was built in Indiana.

Toyota sold just nine Sequoias last month when production began. Sales of the new model Sequoia are likely to be reflected in sales data for the first time next month. Toyota is aiming to boost sales of the large SUV, which is only available as a hybrid, over comparable full-size SUVs. For example, the Ford Expedition sold out the Sequoia 10-to-1 last year.

The base model Sequoia starts at $58,300 and more luxurious models start at $77,000. That’s largely in line with the $73,000 average price buyers paid for new luxury SUVs in August, according to Kelley Blue Book.

But prices have risen across the industry over the past 18 months as parts shortages have faced strong consumer demand. In August, the average sales price of a new vehicle hit an all-time high of $48,301, up 11 percent from a year earlier, according to Kelley Blue Book.

Rapidly rising interest rates make a new car even more expensive. Average car loan rates are up 2 percentage points this year, pushing average monthly car payments to $743 in August, according to Cox Automotive.

“Prices are still high and increasing incrementally each month,” said Rebecca Rydzewski, research manager for economics and industry insights for Cox.

Automakers focus on building vehicles that will benefit them the most, so the supply of smaller vehicles and hybrids is lower than the inventories of larger trucks and SUVs and luxury cars.

“Product mix is ​​the most important factor in keeping prices high,” Rydzewski said.

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The lack of new cars for sale started to ease somewhat in late August, when stocks were higher than at any time since June 2021.

New vehicle supply in the US was 1.23 million at the beginning of September, 31 percent more than a year earlier. But inventories are still a long way from the same time two years ago when new vehicle inventories were 2.48 million, according to Cox Automotive.

Amid ongoing deficits and high interest rates, Cox analysts lowered their forecast for new car sales in the US this year to 13.7 million, which would be the fewest new car sales in more than a decade.

“With prices at record highs and higher rates, the new vehicle market will behave like a de facto luxury market for the foreseeable future,” said Cox Automotive analysts.

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