Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s biggest carmaker lifted its 2012 domestic sales forecast to 1.63 million vehicles because of Japanese government incentives on fuel-efficient vehicles and demand for its new gas-electric Prius compact.

The Japanese automaker will make 320,000 units of its Aqua compact hybrid, launched last month, in 2012, up from its earlier target of 240,000 units, the Nikkei reported, citing company sources.

Those figures indicate global sales of the model would exceed the total number of cars bearing the Prius name that Toyota projects to sell in the U.S. this year.

“Incentives in the domestic market will definitely give Toyota an advantage over GM and VW,” said Satoru Takada, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at research firm Toward The Infinite World Inc.

“With the earthquake and flooding gone, Toyota’s sales will rebound in all of its markets.”

The automaker’s forecast for 18 percent sales growth overseas was unchanged, bringing the global forecast to 8.58 million vehicles, up 21 percent on the previous year, excluding Daihatsu and Hino.

The company confirmed Wednesday that its world group sales fell below the eight million mark in 2011, losing the firm its number one spot in the global carmakers’ league.


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