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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota expects to strengthen its position as the world’s largest automotive manufacturer in 2010, forecasting a six percent rise in global sales over 2009.

Toyota sold 7.813 million vehicles as a group last year and estimates that figure will rise to 8.27 million in 2010. The increase will only recoup around half of last year’s losses however, with Toyota down 13 percent on 2008 and well behind 2007’s record 9.37 million vehicles. Alternately, second-place Volkswagen sold a record 6.28 million vehicles in 2009.

A six percent growth for 2010 would be marginally higher than what some analysts are predicting to be a three to four percent world-wide market growth.

Toyota says it is expecting Toyota and Lexus vehicle sales to rise nine percent to 1.5 million in Japan after the extension of the government’s “cash for clunkers” style subsidy scheme by six months to the end of September.

It is also anticipating five percent overseas increases for the Toyota brand to 5.9 million, headlined by the strengthening US and Chinese markets. Clearly it will be hoping the recent accelerator-related recalls in the US will not damage its reputation for reliability and safety too severely.

(with Reuters)




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