Lots of eyes are turning to Toyota these days as word gets around that they're poised to take the top automaker slot from GM over the next few years. With that specifically in mind, Paul Eisenstein from The Car Connection sat with Jim Lentz, executive vice president for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A., Inc., and chatted at the media presentation of the new Tundra.

Of particular interest is Lentz' forecast for full-size truck sales. He says he believes the market will drop by 10 percent by the end of 2006, but will rebound next year when the new Tundra, Chevy Silverado and Ford F-250 are made available.

When asked about high gas prices and its relation to the full-size truck market, Lentz doesn't feel that per gallon charges at the pump necessarily had the largest impact on sales. He believes it had more to do with either the pick-up market hitting its natural level, or simply a "payback" from the employee discount sales of 2005. His reasoning is that gas prices have doubled over the last 4 years and yet this was the only year that sales didn't grow.

I wouldn't necessarily doubt Lentz' overall reasoning, however, I also wouldn't discount the historical impact of high gas prices. The fact that sales figures fell for just 2006 over a 4 year period of rising pump charges could instead mean that gas prices finally reaching a tipping point with the American consumer.

[Source: The Car Connection]

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