The Toyota Motor Corporation this week projected record sales of above seven million units for next year, which would entrench the company as the world’s second biggest car maker.

The Toyota Motor Corporation this week projected record sales of above seven million units for next year, which would entrench the company as the world’s second biggest car maker.


CARtoday.com reported last month that Toyota would become the world's second-largest car manufacturer for the first time in the third quarter of this year. At the time, Ford was bumped off the second spot by Toyota when the Japanese company sold 166 000 more vehicles than the Blue Oval in the third quarter - and just two months after the Japanese manufacturer passed DaimlerChrysler in terms of sales.


Toyota estimated sales at its group, which includes Daihatsu and Hino, would total 6,78 million units this year, and forecast a four per cent rise to 7,08 million vehicles in 2004.


"I have no idea what Ford's numbers are going to be this year or next year, but my impression is that it is running way ahead of us. It would be impertinent for us to talk about overtaking them, and those are my true feelings," President Fujio Cho said.


In 2004 alone, Toyota will launch the new Scion brand across the United States to tap a growing demographic of young customers, add output capacity in Britain and France, and begin production of the Corolla in China.


Toyota's march would come against a backdrop of little or no growth in the world's biggest markets. In 2004, it expects overall Japanese car sales, excluding 660cc superminis, at around 4,1 million units - only 50 000 units more than this year.


Speaking at the release of Wesco’s interim results to September earlier this month, Toyota SA chairman Elisabeth Bradley said the company’s net income after tax was R217 million in the six months to June, compared with a loss of R183 million in the first half of the previous year.


Bradley said the reason for the turnaround had been the strong rand. "We are paying less for imported parts and vehicles and we are bigger importers than exporters. Even the vehicles we export have 50 per cent imported content," she said.


The downside of the strong rand was Toyota SA making only "a very small profit" on its exports to Australia, but Bradley said that the programme would continue for strategic reasons.


"Toyota can hammer down costs more easily with higher volumes," she said.

Original article from Car