In June, Toyota sold 17,756 Prius hybrids in the United States. That's almost double the number sold a year ago, and it's the stat that tells you all you need to know about another glum month for U.S. carmakers.
Overall, General Motors reported a sales decline of 21 percent compared to a year ago. Ford's sales were down 8.1 percent, and the Chrysler division of Daimler/Chrysler reported a 1.4 percent decline. Toyota: up 10 percent. Honda: up 11 percent. It's been the same story for the last year and a half.
The figures shed unencouraging light on Detroit's vociferous criticism of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement currently awaiting ratification by Congress. The automotive industry says that Korea uses a variety of mechanisms to block foreign imports. This appears to be true. But so what?
Maybe Detroit should be a little more successful selling cars to Americans before it starts whining about trade barriers blocking its efforts in other countries. Because it's hard to see how the removal of all such barriers in Korea would make Koreans any more eager to buy Silverados and F150s right now than Americans are. In South Korea, a gallon of gasoline costs double what it does in the U.S.
Sounds like a good market for Toyota.