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Toyota forecasts a move into top gear

Toyota, revving up to regain its title as the world's biggest car maker this year, said yesterday its vehicle sales may rise 2 per cent next year to a record, led by demand from overseas markets.

Toyota is poised to overtake General Motors as the world's biggest car maker for this year. Chris Carlson / AP Photo
Toyota is poised to overtake General Motors as the world's biggest car maker for this year. Chris Carlson / AP Photo

Toyota, revving up to regain its title as the world's biggest car maker this year, said yesterday its vehicle sales may rise 2 per cent next year to a record, led by demand from overseas markets.

Global sales, including those of subsidiaries Hino Motors and Daihatsu, may climb to 9.91 million vehicles in 2013, the company said. The maker of the Corolla and the Camry sedan estimates sales expanded 22 per cent to a record 9.7 million this year, the biggest gain since at least 2000.

Toyota is counting on the United States to boost sales next year, countering a projected 15 per cent drop in Japan, where government subsidies to buyers of fuel-efficient vehicles expired in September.

The car maker's 2013 forecast surpasses the previous high of 9.37 million units in 2007, before the global financial crisis sapped demand.

The maker of the Prius, the world's best-selling hybrid car, is set to regain the title of world's best-selling car maker from General Motors (GM) and Volkswagen (VW) as the industry heads for a record year. Global 2012 sales will top 80 million cars and lorries for the first time, as robust US and Japanese purchases offset a European downturn, according to estimates from LMC Automotive.

"After the subsidies expired in September, car sales in Japan didn't fall tremendously, so Toyota's forecast for domestic deliveries to fall 15 per cent next year is bigger than we expected," said Yoshiaki Kawano, a Tokyo-based industry analyst at IHS Automotive.

"The US will continue to lead sales next year, but the growth level at Japanese car makers will match the industry's, unlike this year, where they all outperformed the market."

VW will vie with GM for the sales crown among foreign car makers in China next year, gaining share as Japanese car makers led by Toyota struggle to recover amid a territorial dispute.

VW, whose luxury Audi sedans are popular with Chinese bureaucrats, has not held the lead in the country since 2004 and will probably sell 2.7 million vehicles there next year to GM's 2.65 million, helped by eight new or revamped models including the Santana, Golf, Skoda Octavia and Audi Q3, according to industry researcher JSC Automotive Consulting. GM's new offerings include the Cadillac XTS and three Opel models.

Passenger-vehicle sales in China will probably accelerate and gain as much as 10 per cent next year, as a rebound in economic growth gathers strength, according to eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

"When the economy stabilises, Chinese consumers will have more confidence to buy cars," said Lin Huaibin, an analyst at IHS Automotive.

"A lot of indicators have shown economic improvement since September."

 

* with Bloomberg News