Toyota hit US production, sales records in 2012

Japanese auto giant Toyota set new records for vehicle productions, sales and vehicle launches in the United States and said Thursday it has "strong momentum" going into 2013.

"Toyota achieved a number of important milestones in 2012," said Jim Lentz, head of Toyota Motor Sales USA.

"As we continue with the most aggressive product launch in our history, we're confident this momentum will continue in the year ahead."

Toyota forecast that its North American sales will grow by about 100,000 vehicles this year to more than 2.15 million.

Toyota built 1.78 million vehicles in its 14 North American manufacturing plants in 2012, 600,000 more than the previous record set in 2007.

Production was also up 41 percent from 2011, when its supply chain was shattered by the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Toyota has invested $1.5 million in its regional facilities over the past 13 months and brought its newest plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi up to full operation.

It also celebrated reaching a milestone of 25 million vehicles built in the region some 30 years after the first Toyota rolled off a US assembly line.

Sales topped two million vehicles in the United States -- capturing 14.4 percent of the market -- as Toyota launched 19 new or significantly updated models. Nine new models will be introduced in 2013.

The Toyota Division also claimed the title of top retail brand in the United States as sales grew 27 percent in 2012, although General Motors and Ford had higher volumes overall thanks to sales to government and business fleets.

Meanwhile, the Toyota Camry held its position as the best-selling car in the United States for the 11th straight year with sales of more than 400,000 vehicles.

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