After a year of disasters, Toyota sees record sales

Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:56am EST
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By Chang-Ran Kim, Asia autos correspondent

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp forecast a 20 percent jump in global sales to a record 8.48 million vehicles next year as it claws back from this year's output losses caused by natural disasters in Japan and Thailand.

Toyota overtook General Motors Co as the world's top-selling automaker in 2008 but is set to lose that crown this year as supply-chain disruptions from the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan and flooding in Thailand cut production around the world.

With estimated sales this year of 7.90 million vehicles for the group, which includes units Daihatsu Motor Co and Hino Motors Ltd, Toyota will likely rank third behind General Motors and Volkswagen AG.

Toyota could regain the top ranking next year as it builds inventory to meet pent-up demand and adds output capacity in China and Brazil, among other countries. GM and VW have not disclosed their 2012 sales plans, and Toyota did not provide group forecasts.

"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.

"But it depends on which markets the growth will come from," he said, noting Toyota was dominant in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, but faces tougher competition in China and South America.

Toyota's parent-only plan for 2012 beats its previous peak of 8.43 million vehicles in 2007.

"I believe the target is achievable given Toyota is quickly recovering production and launching new models," said Lee Hyun-soo, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities in Seoul.   Continued...