TORRANCE, California: Citing high oil prices, ongoing fallout from the subprime mortgage debacle and the ensuing decline in the housing market, Toyota Motor Sales USA president James Lentz is in bear mode so far as sales prospects for 2008 are concerned.

The three horsemen of the economic apocalypse, he said, "will have the biggest impact on the industry going forward". As 2007 hobbles towards it close, Lentz foresees an industry-wide sales decline of roughly 3% on 2006 despite sales sweeteners.

"Incentives have been a little larger than we might have anticipated," he said.

But the Japanese giant claims to be insulated from the car loan delinquencies that are plaguing the auto business nationwide.

Toyota's customers tend to have higher incomes than the industry average and less than 1% of its loans are on the rocks. "It still is not a big issue on the Toyota side," Lentz said.

Toyota is also bucking the US trend and expects to notch sales of 2.61 million units in 2007, up 3%-4% on 2006.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff