After a heavy year for the entire Japanese auto industry, Toyota Motor Corp said Thursday it would aim to boost global sales by 20 percent to 8.48 million units globally in 2012.

A dismal 2011, which saw sales shrink six percent, means the Japanese giant is unlikely to retain its spot as global top dog and will be overtaken by General Motors and Volkswagen.

Its domestic output alone is expected to exceed 3 million units in 2012, the threshold that Toyota says it needs to maintain in order to secure the employment and capacity for technological development, the officials said.

In addition, emerging markets’ share of Toyota’s global sales is expected to grow from 33 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2012.

Toyota spokeswoman Amiko Tomita said the 2012 global production target is an ambitious one, which would beat its current record of 8.53 million units set in 2007 before the onset of the financial crisis.

Toyota probably lost more output than any other carmaker because of the Thai floods, according to Masatoshi Nishimoto, a Tokyo-based senior manager at research firm IHS Automotive.

“The reason they lost sales this year was because they couldn’t build the cars. Now that they can, it’s possible they’ll take back the top spot,” said Satoru Takada, analyst at Tokyo-based T.I.W.

For the month of November, Toyota’s worldwide production edged down 1.3 percent to 727,755 units. Production in Japan grew 8.9 percent, with growth in all three brands.

Given the current global economic climate, the Eurozone crisis, and the power of yen, some analysts said Toyota’s production plans were a little optimistic.

“With these factors in mind, I think some investors are somewhat sceptical that they will reach these numbers,” said Fujo Ando, stock analyst at Chibagin Asset Management.


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