Chicago— Toyota Motor Corp. said it exported a record 130,000-U.S. built vehicles in 2013 as overall U.S. auto exports hit an all-time high.
The Japanese automaker said at the Chicago Auto Show that its U.S.-built exports rose 5 percent to 32 countries. Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales USA, said exports rose by 5 percent last year. Toyota will start exporting the Indiana-built Highlander to Russia and other countries this spring.
Toyota now exports from the U.S. such vehicles as the Avalon and Camry to China, Korea, the Middle East and other regions. “It’s a very robust area of our business,” Carter told reporters.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that overall U.S. automotive vehicle and parts exports hit $152 billion in 2013 — a record. That’s up about $6 billion over 2012. Automotive U.S. imports rose by $11 billion to $309 billion last year.
On Jan. 30, Toyota said it would temporarily stop selling six models — or about 13 percent of vehicles in U.S. showrooms — because seat fabric used in some vehicles with seat warmers doesn’t meet a federal standard on flammability. Toyota had halted the sale of 36,000 vehicles — the 2013-2014 Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Sienna, Tacoma and the 2014 Corolla and Tundra with heated seats.
Carter said its dealers this week will start repairing the cars. “We have parts now flowing,” Carter said. He said the issue would have a “minor impact” on February sales.
The automaker has filed a petition asking the government to label the issue “inconsequential,” which would allow the vehicles to be sold without repair — and would allow the automaker to avoid a recall. Until a ruling is announced, Toyota will fix the vehicles.
No fires or complaints related to the issue have been reported.