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 NEW YORK, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- "Setting sun" stories that include Toyota in the decline of the Japanese auto industry are giving "last rites to the wrong company," a senior Toyota executive said here today.
 In remarks to the International Motor Press Association (IMPA), Yale Gieszl, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., acknowledged that some Ford, Chrysler and General Motors products have "crossed the threshold of consumer acceptability" in quality and enjoy a retail price advantage as well. However, he cited several Toyota assets -- high quality, overall value, sales strength and tremendous financial power -- to support his contention that rumors of Toyota's decline are "greatly exaggerated."
 "Consumers continue to buy Toyota and Lexus products because they know you get what you pay for," Gieszl said. "They know that, when it comes to satisfying customers and delivering the best quality, no other automaker comes close to Toyota." As proof, he cited Toyota's unprecedented sweep of 16 of the 22 J.D. Power quality awards for 1993.
 He added that quality is more than a low level of "things gone wrong" and that "Toyota has a big lead" over its rivals in "things gone right" such as quiet ride, comfort and the "fit and finish" of its products' sheet metal.
 He also called attention to the high trade-in value of Toyota and Lexus products. "While a 1991 Taurus GL V-6 carried a manufacturer's suggested retail price ... about $3,300 less than a comparable 1991 Camry LE ... that same 1991 Taurus today brings about $7,200, while the Camry fetches $11,300 -- $4,100 more." He also noted that a 1991 Cadillac Seville, while $4,000 less expensive than a Lexus LS400 when new, now trades for $12,700 less than the comparable 1991 LS400. Although consumers "may pay more in the beginning," he added, "owning a Toyota or Lexus will cost them less in the end."(a)
 Gieszl also noted that Toyota's sales "sun" continues to rise, not set. "Calendar year-to-date, Toyota division sales are up by 2.6 percent and Lexus sales are up 6.3 percent," he said. "Our annual sales in the United States have been over 1 million vehicles for the past three years and this year we're on track to do it again."
 He added that the Camry outsells the entire Chrysler LH line (Dodge Intrepid, Eagle Vision and Chrysler Concorde) by a margin of nearly 2-to-1.
 Gieszl said that Toyota will continue to emphasize high quality in its U.S. advertising and will rely more heavily on leasing in the future. "Toyota's industry-leading quality and high retained value give us a competitive edge and enable us to offer excellent lease rates," he said. He also cited the strength of Toyota's more than 1,400 American dealers and noted that the company will give them six all-new 1995 models to sell.
 One of the new models will be the just-announced Toyota sedan named Avalon, he said. "Avalon will be much more than a Cressida replacement. It will be an all-new, six-passenger ... large car. It will be based on an extended Camry platform and will be powered by a version of our new all-aluminum V-6 engine. Avalon will be ... built exclusively in our Kentucky plant." He added that Avalon will be introduced this coming February at the Chicago Auto Show.
 He pointed out that Toyota's growing North American production helps to insulate it from the rapid rise of the yen. "Today, nearly half of the cars and trucks we sell in the U.S. are built in North America," he said, "including core volume models like Corolla, Camry and compact trucks. By 1995, this should increase to over 60 percent." He also noted that local purchasing to support that production will increase. "Our purchases of U.S. parts and materials have quadrupled from a little over $1 billion in 1988 to $4.4 billion in 1992. Next year, we expect the total to exceed $5 billion."
 In summary, Gieszl added that "Toyota has the best quality products and offers consumers the best total value for their money. We have strong, profitable dealers. We have a terrific product line-up, with more exciting new models on the way. And we have the financial resources and actions underway to meet the challenges.
 "From my vantage point," he said, "the sun is shining on Toyota and twilight isn't in the cards."
 (a) Data from NADA.
 -0- 11/18/93
 /CONTACT: Fred Hammond, 212-644-3424, or Lisa Weissman, 212-644-3447/

CO: Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. ST: New York IN: AUT SU:

JB-JL -- LA032 -- 6149 11/18/93 15:11 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 18, 1993

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