Toyota targeting China, India markets

Updated: 2006-11-13 11:43

Tokyo -- A leaked copy of Toyota Motor Corp.'s "global master plan" calls for grabbing 14 percent of the world car market by 2010 in the company's quest to unseat rival General Motors, a newspaper said Monday.

Toyota declined to comment on the report in The Wall Street Journal Asia, but confirmed that the world's No. 2 automaker is betting on surging demand in places such as China and India to fuel rapid expansion.

Toyota, on pace to end GM's half-century reign as the world's biggest carmaker, has mapped out plans to capture 14 percent of the global market in the next three years, up from 11 percent in 2005, newspaper reported, citing a confidential document it said was circulated to top Toyota executives earlier this year.

The plan predicts global auto sales to jump to 73 million vehicles in 2010 from 65 million in 2005, the newspaper said, adding that Toyota will likely boost production in India and China to meet demand. The company is already working on a new compact specially geared toward developing countries, where car ownership is on the rise but family budgets are still small, the report said.

In Tokyo, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said he could not comment on the report and said the company has no concrete plans to sell a new minicar model. But Toyota is definitely eyeing the developing markets, he said.

"Russia, India, China and Brazil, no doubt about it. Those four are absolutely where we think a lot of action will be coming," Nolasco said. "Look at the population and the rate of motorization. There's a lot of potential for growth."

Toyota already surpassed Ford Motor Co. as the world's No. 2 automaker in annual global vehicle sales in 2003, and analysts say it is on track to surpass GM in the coming years. Just last month, Toyota announced plans to boost global sales to 9.8 million vehicles in 2008. GM sold 9.2 million vehicles worldwide in 2005, the second-largest volume it that company's history.

Toyota has been expanding output, reaping bumper profits and raising its earnings forecast at a time when American rivals Ford and GM are logging big losses, shuttering plants and slashing jobs. The Japanese company was quick to cash in on hot demand for reliable, fuel-efficient vehicles amid surging gas prices, while US makers were slower to react.

As sales growth plateaus in mature markets like North America and Western Europe, Toyota and other automakers are increasingly focused on developing countries like China, Russia, India and Brazil. GM and DaimlerChrysler have both been investing in China, while Japan's Honda is eyeing expansion in India.

Toyota already has one plant in India, with production of 44,500 units, one plant in Brazil, with output of 57,800, and five plants in China, with combined output of 443,000. It plans to open another plant in China in mid-2007 and boost production at other facilities to raise China output to 693,000. Its first Russia plant, with capacity of 50,000 units, is scheduled to open in late 2007.

Nolasco said there are no additional plans at the moment to build new facilities, but noted that Toyota has a policy of trying to build its cars close to the markets where they are sold.

To better tap those markets, Toyota is developing a low-cost "family compact" and is planning to open a new factory in India as early as 2009, with capacity of 150,000 vehicles a year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Japanese media have reported Toyota plans to raise overseas output by 40 percent of its 2005 level to 5 million units by 2008.

To keep its ambitions for growth going, Toyota is increasing production in various regions, including a plant in Texas that begins production this year. It has also outlined plans to boost production at existing plants in Canada, Thailand and Mexico.

Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said last month his company plans to add 8,000 engineers by 2010, and the company said last week it plans to boost capital expenditures in North American by 60 percent to 330 billion yen (US$2.82 billion) in the current fiscal year through March.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours