Toyota notches record sales despite semiconductor shortage

China deliveries were up 29.6% year-on-year, with new models of the Corolla, Levin, RAV4, and Wildlander, as well as the Lexus marque, among the best performers

Toyota notches record sales despite semiconductor shortage
The interior of a Toyota bZ4X Concept electric vehicle seen at the Auto Shanghai show earlier this month. Photo: Reuters

(ATF) Japanese carmaker Toyota notched record global sales in March despite a global automotive semiconductor shortage, the coronavirus pandemic and bad weather.

Toyota’s worldwide sales climbed by 44% to 982,912 units last month. 

Production also improved year on year with 843,393 units produced that month, up 32% from a year earlier, when the pandemic was forcing global automakers to suspend production in factories.

Global sales rose 19.1% in the three months to March 31, exceeding expectations of a 10% increase.

Sales were particularly strong in China and North America, a Toyota spokeswoman said.

China sales were up 29.6% year-on-year, with new models of the Corolla, Levin, RAV4, and Wildlander, as well as the Lexus marque, the best performers.

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The global semiconductor shortage knocked about 1.3 million units off global car output in the first three months of the year, according to IHS Markit.

However, analysts say the issue is not likely to significantly affect Toyota's financial profiles.

"We believe both carmakers have sufficient financial flexibility to absorb additional costs and maintain significant rating headroom, even if the shortage persists through to the second half of 2021," Roman Schorr, director at Fitch Ratings in Tokyo said.

Toyota's limited exposure to the shortage illustrates its highly resilient business model, particularly the quality of its supply-chain management, Schorr said.

"Toyota has successfully drawn on its experience in resolving previous disruptions, such as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, by optimising inventory levels, monitoring its supply chain and improving communication channels with suppliers," Schorr added.  

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