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Toyota sales may rise 20 percent on recovery from disasters

Dec. 25, 2011 - 18:16 By Kim Yon-se
Toyota Motor Corp. said its vehicle sales may rise the most in at least 12 years in 2012 as Asia’s biggest carmaker recovers from production disruptions caused by Japan’s March earthquake and Thailand’s record flooding.

The maker of Prius hybrid cars may boost global deliveries 20 percent to 8.48 million vehicles from an estimated 7.05 million in 2011, it said in a statement today. The forecast excludes Toyota’s Hino Motors Ltd. and Daihatsu Motor Co. units.

Toyota, poised to lose its crown as the world’s biggest automaker this year to General Motors Co., aims to recover market share lost after natural disasters disrupted its supply chain, causing parts shortages that shuttered factories and left car dealers short of inventory. The strong yen, which is reducing Toyota’s export earnings, and slowing economic growth in the U.S. and China may hamper its efforts.
An employee demonstrates the charging of Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius plug-in hybrid vehicle during the unveiling in Tokyo. (Bloomberg)

“The sales forecast is much higher than I expected, and to be honest, I doubt they can achieve the target,” Kohei Takahashi, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co., said today by phone. “The yen has gotten much stronger and they won’t be able to make any profit exporting cars.”

Global production may rise 24 percent next year to 8.65 million vehicles, of which 3.4 million will be built in Japan, Toyota said in today’s statement. Total output fell an estimated 9 percent to 6.97 million units this year, while vehicle sales dropped 6 percent, the carmaker said. The projected sales increase for next year would be the biggest since at least 2000, Dion Corbett, a spokesman for Toyota, said today in an e-mail.

Declining sales and gains in the yen prompted the carmaker to cut its profit forecast by more than half for the fiscal year ending March 31. Net income for the 12 months ending March 31 may decrease 56 percent to 180 billion yen ($2.3 billion), the company said Dec. 9.

The reduced forecast came after Ford Motor Co. declared its first quarterly dividend since 2006 and Detroit-based GM boosted sales 9.2 percent in the first three quarters of 2011.