DETROIT: Rising gasoline prices are forcing Americans to renounce their love affair with big vehicles - a situation that has compelled carmakers to trim their US sales forecasts for this year.
Toyota Motor, which ousted General Motors as the world's number one car-seller in the year's first quarter, had expected to shift just over 2.64 million vehicles from dealer lots in the US during 2008, but now warns that this figure will be reviewed mid-year.
Says Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe: "As of now we haven't changed our original annual plan yet, but we may have to scale back."
Rivals General Motors and Ford Motor Company are planning lay-offs as US demand for SUVs and pick-up trucks slackens. The market for the latter plunged 17% in the January to April period.
Toyota's Tundra truck sales were down 6% year-on- year in April, prompting the Japanese giant to rein-in production at plants in Indiana and Texas. In addition, it has postponed the opening of a new Mississippi factory to make the Highlander SUV.
The company expects the US vehicle market to shrink by around 1m units this year but still hopes to reach its 9.85m global sales target this year, thanks to growth in China and Russia.
Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff