Tokyo: Toyota Motor Corp expects its global auto sales to rise 6% in 2010 as the industry recovers from its worst ever downturn, likely maintaining its lead over Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co as the world’s biggest automaker.
Toyota, the maker of the Prius gasoline-electric hybrid and flagship Corolla, forecast group-wide sales to rise to 8.27 million vehicles in 2010, still well short of the record 9.37 million units it sold in 2007.
“All in all, it’s probably an achievable target,” said Christopher Richter, auto analyst at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets.
He said he expected total global vehicle sales to grow around 3-4% this year, meaning Toyota would expect to slightly outperform the market.
Excluding units Daihatsu Motor Co and Hino Motors Ltd, Toyota expects to sell 7.4 million vehicles worldwide, up 6%, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
Toyota is counting on brisk growth in Japan, where it expects sales of Toyota and Lexus cars to jump 9% to 1.5 million vehicles after government subsidies to replace older cars were extended by six months to the end of September.
It also expects its parent-only overseas sales to grow 5% to 5.9 million vehicles, driven by a sharp rise in the United States, its single biggest market, and China, which overtook the US as the world’s biggest auto market last year.
Toyota had been growing rapidly in the lead up to the financial crisis, adding production capacity and expanding its line-up of vehicles, leaving it badly exposed when markets turned and demand dried up.
Hammered by plunging sales, falling prices and over-capacity, Toyota said it November it expected to post an operating loss of ¥350 billion ($3.9 billion) for the year to March.
More recently, the company has been caught up in two massive US vehicle recalls that threaten to damage its reputation for safety and reliability.
Last year, Toyota sold 7.813 million vehicles as a group, down 13%, while Volkswagen sold a record 6.28 million vehicles in 2009. GM, bailed out by the US government last year, has not disclosed its 2009 sales tally.
Shares of Toyota closed down 2.5% ahead of the announcement, having rallied 40% in the past 12 months, lagging the sector’s 58% rise.