TOYOTA WORLDWIDE SALES

Toyota to be first to sell 10 million vehicles a year

Japanese auto giant aims to bag this distinction in 2009, beating GM's 9.55 million sales in 1978.

2 September, 2007

BY OUR AUTOMOBILE CORRESPONDENT

Toyota Motor Corp plans to become the first automaker to sell 10 million vehicles in a year in 2009. Toyota said on August 31 it plans to sell 10.4 million vehicles in 2009. Toyota expects vehicle sales to surge 6.1% in 2009, the company said.

General Motor's holds the record, selling 9.55 million vehicles in 1978.

The 10.4 million units Toyota plans to sell will include sales of its mini vehicle arm Hino Motors Ltd and truck making unit Daihatsu Motor Co, a Toyota release said.

In 2006, Toyota and its units sold a combined 8.81 million vehicles, ousting Detroit-based General Motors as the world's biggest automaker. Toyota is the world's biggest automaker by market value. It has a market capitalization of $200 billion.

Toyota 's sales projection for 2008 is 9.8 million vehicles.

To achieve this feat, Toyota is stepping up production at its plans in Europe, North America and China, the company said.

Toyota 's fuel-efficient vehicles have already made a dent into sales of GM and Ford as fuel prices have skyrocketed. Currently, sixty percent of Toyota's operating profits come from the US. Toyota plans to cut this down, though no figures were projected on this.

Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe was quoted as saying the company wants to keep the growth momentum as well as raise the quality bar. As growth slows in US, Europe and home turf Japan, Toyota is shifting focus to BRIC countries Brazil, India, China and Russia.

Toyota 's estimate of 10.4 million includes 3.1 million vehicles in North America and 2.4 million in Japan, the company said.

Europe will contribute 1.45 million units in Toyota's projection, while 1.9 million units would be sold in Asia.

Toyota also expects its sales to zoom in China to 1 million in the next decade, from this year's projected 4,30,000, which is a jump of 40% from 2006.

But as Toyota marches ahead with its aggressive expansion plans, rivals GM and Ford Motor Co are struggling. GM is shutting 12 of its North American plants and Ford intends to shut nine plants by 2009.Together this would result in about 75,000 job cuts.

The US automakers erred in relying too much on light trucks, which contribute more than 65% of their sales, while their Japanese peers gained from more fuel-efficient vehicles due to surging gasoline prices.

In the first seven months of this fiscal, Toyota's sales rose 6.1% to 1.56 million units, while GM saw a decline in sales of 9.4% at 2.2 million. Ford Motor Co sales plunged 12% to 1.57 million units.

Toyota's plans to open a unit in Camry sedans in Russia this year and hike production in China, the world's second biggest auto market where the GDP is growing at more than 10%.

In research and development also, Toyota aims to hike spending by 5.5% to 940 billion yen, the company said, in a bid to develop new cars.

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