U.S. sales of Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) vehicles increased 12 percent in February, paced by double-digit increases for Camry and Prius models as well as a 60 percent jump in sales of all hybrids, the company reported.
Sales of the Japanese auto maker's trucks declined, however, last month, which had 25 selling days -- one more than the 24 in February 2011.
Toyota reported that it sold 159,423 vehicles in the United States last month, up from 141,846 during the same period a year ago and 18 percent above its total for January.
Sales of all Toyota cars were up 23 percent from February 2011, while truck sales dipped 1.8%. Sport-utility-vehicle sales were down 3.5 percent and sales of pickup trucks rose 14 percent.
Toyota's year-on-year U.S. sales increase beat analysts' expectations. Bloomberg News had predicted an 8.2 percent rise based on the average of seven analyst estimates, while car-shopping website Edmunds.com had projected a 5.6 percent increase.
The company credited demand for its popular Prius hybrid for much of Februar's improvement. Sales of all versions of the car were up 52 percent last month.
Among hybrids, Toyota's Lexus luxury nameplate more than doubled its sales from a year ago, to 2,645. The Toyota division overall sold 24,813 hybrids, an increase of 56.3 percent.
High gasoline prices may have motivated consumers in their purchases of hybrids. The Toyota Yaris, with an estimated fuel economy of 38 miles per gallon, also increased sales by 78.1 percent.
With gas prices approaching $4 a gallon and already up 14 percent this year, I think it's fair to say fuel economy is top of mind with many consumers, and with the most fuel-efficient vehicle lineup in the industry, our results reflect that concern, Bob Carter, Toyota division group vice president and general manager of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said on a conference call.