16 August 2006

Toyota Rules The Road in California


If you've ever wondered as Toyota after Toyota after Honda rolled by on the freeway just how big a lead those automakers had in California, the numbers are in.

And they're big.

In its first published look at new-vehicle registrations in the state, the California Motor Car Dealers Assn. found that in the second quarter, Toyota-brand cars and trucks accounted for 23.4% of all sales, followed by Honda at 12.4%.

The strong performance of the Japanese brands put them ahead of overall U.S. market leaders General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. The Ford brand was third in California in the second quarter, with a 9.6% share, and GM's Chevrolet followed at 8.2%.

Add Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus luxury brand to the tally and its April-to-June share of the California market rises to a dominating 27%.

Six foreign nameplates - Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus - accounted for 53.8% of the new passenger vehicles sold in the state in the second quarter.

This one's for you, Fixer:

Ford's full-size F-150 pickup, however, remained the leading model in the state, accounting for 3.9% of sales in the first half, and five of the top 10 models were pickups or big SUVs - a testament to California's love affair with trucks, regardless of what's happening at the gas pump.

None of this comes as any surprise to me. We've had our Tacoma for a little over a year now and we're still in love with it. The gas mileage isn't stupendous - real world 16/20, but in comparison with the Dakota at at 13/18, it's better. The Tacoma is faster, more comfortable, and loaded with features. F'rinstance, the passenger seat weighs the passenger so it won't set the air bag on "stun" if there's a kid in it.

Also, it has three, count 'em - three, odometers, one of which is used to turn off the "maintenance required" light, which is an oil change reminder every 4500 miles. We don't go that long between changes, so I had to learn how to turn the light off (read your owner's manual. Duh.).

I can lock the doors from inside my house. Handy.

My neighbor Joe, an old Dodge man like me, even bought a Tundra. I think he likes it, but all he'll say when I ask him is "It's not a Dodge". His lovely bride of 45 years snitched him off, though.

Mrs. G calls our truck "Ruby" because of its color. I call it "Recon Ruby" because it's swift and silent. My one beef about it is, it's so quiet I can't hear it coming. You can hear the tire noise, but not the engine. My dogs don't even alert to it until they hear the door close in the driveway twenty feet away. If the exhaust system ever rots away, I'll fix that. The Dakota has a "big American V-8" rumble you can hear a block away.

Even though I bought the truck in Nevada, it put Californians to work. It was assembled at an old GM factory in Fremont, so the term "Jap shit" just don't fly anymore, and nobody does that anymore, anyway. GM exported their old assembly line to China. Quite a few of the former "Big 3" cars and trucks are assembled in Canada and Mexico. "Buy American" does not mean what it used to.

Note to GM: You better wise up. Toyota's passed Ford nationwide for No. 2 and the handwriting is on the wall. It's not just Japanese graffiti. What it says is, "Too bad, so sad. Sayonara, dinosaur."

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