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Toyota eyes 20 per cent global sales growth in 2012
AFP | Dec 24, 2011 | 21:33
Customers check a Toyota vehicle at Toyots'a showroom in Tokyo on Friday (AFP photo)
TOKYO — Japan's biggest carmaker Toyota said Friday it would aim to boost global sales by a fifth next year, seeking growth in emerging markets to counter sluggish demand in the crisis-hit developed world.
A dismal 2011, which saw sales shrink 6 per cent, means the Japanese giant is unlikely to retain its spot as global top dog and will be overtaken by General Motors (GM) and Volkswagen.
The forecasts come weeks after Toyota more than halved its full-year net profit outlook as it grapples with a strong yen, the impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and flooding in Thailand which hit supply chains.
But the company is hoping for a bumper 2012 both at home and abroad, setting ambitious sales and production targets.
The automaker expects to sell 8.48 million Toyota and Lexus units worldwide in 2012, up from 7.05 million in 2011, and plans to boost their global production by almost a quarter to a record 8.65 million vehicles, rising to 8.98 million in 2013.
A turbulent 2011, when the global economic slowdown also hit the firm, is expected to show group domestic sales — including subsidiaries Daihatsu and Hino — slumped 19 per cent, with a 24 per cent fall in Toyota brand sales.
Worldwide group sales are expected to show a six per cent fall for the year, the company said, down to 7.9 million units.
Toyota spokeswoman Amiko Tomita admitted the 2012 global production target was an ambitious one, and would beat its current record of 8.53 million units for the Toyota brand, which includes Lexus, set in 2007 before the onset of the financial crisis.
The 2012 global sales target of 8.48 million would also be a new record, beating the current largest sales of 8.43 million in 2007, she indicated.
"But what we are envisioning behind these figures is different from the time of 2007," Tomita said. "We will have more focus on emerging markets."
"We have a global vision to build more balanced business operations in different regions, compared with 2007 when the company focused more on Japan, North America and Europe," she added.
Toyota said it wanted to further boost its sales in 2013, with a target of 8.95 million units in the year.
The car giant has been at the top of the global automakers' tree by sales for three years after overtaking GM, but looks set to be knocked off its perch.
GM sold 6.79 million vehicles in the first nine months of the year, up 9.2 per cent on the year earlier and on target for more than nine million for the full year if it can maintain the pace, Dow Jones Newswires reported.
Volkswagen saw its sales jump 14 per cent to 7.51 million for the first 11 months of the year and is eyeing a year-end figure in excess of eight million units.
Toyota's 2011 production was hampered when supply chains were shattered in the wake of the huge tsunami that swamped northeast Japan, while massive flooding in Thailand added to the production gloom.
Earlier this month the firm cut its profit outlook to 180 billion yen ($2.3 billion), 54 per cent down from its August estimate after the Thai floods forced plant closures and caused supply-chain problems.
It also said that the strong yen, which is sitting near post-war record highs against the dollar, had hit it hard as repatriated earnings were severely reduced.
Toyota is seen as particularly sensitive to fluctuations in the yen.
A mood of austerity among Japanese consumers affected appetite for all manner of consumer goods during the year.
In March, just days before the natural disaster struck and claimed 20,000 lives, Toyota unveiled its "Global Vision" business plans, aiming to make half its global sales in emerging markets by 2015.
It is looking to increase production abroad to be closer to demand, reduce logistics costs and limit exposure to the Japanese yen.
Toyota has strengthened annual production capacity in Argentina by more than 40 per cent to 92,000 units, most of which are exported to Brazil and nine other Latin American countries.
It has also announced plans to build a new factory in Indonesia, where it wants to boost annual production to 180,000 units by 2013, and in India a subsidiary based on the outskirts of Bangalore plans to almost double annual production to 310,000 in 2013.
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