Toyota Motor Corp. increased its worldwide sales estimate due to the Japanese government incentives on fuel-efficient automobiles and the demand for its Prius compact gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle. Sales are expected to increase by 21% to 8.58 million units this year, according to Toyota. This is 100,000 vehicles more than the automaker's estimate in December.
The sales projection excludes those of subsidiaries Hino Motors Ltd. and Daihatsu Motor Co. Last year, Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co. outsold Toyota, which lost some of its market share due to the natural disasters in Thailand and Japan that hampered production.
Toyota is betting on government incentives and the latest Prius hybrid to help it regain its share of the market. The recovery will aid the vehicle manufacturer, which produces the Camry sedan, to increase profits by 100% next fiscal year after output deficits lead to a drop in earnings in the year ending March, according to analysts’ estimates.
Auto analyst Satoru Takada at Tokyo-based research firm Toward The Infinite World Inc. commented that the incentives in the domestic market will "definitely" give Toyota "an advantage over GM and VW." He added that the sales of Toyota will bounce back in all of its markets. Toyota continues to face the strength of the yen, which has appreciated more against the dollar compared to any other major currency in the past half year, emphasizing the value of Japanese exports.
The automaker is also facing a healthier GM, which was the largest automaker in the world in 2011 -- two years after exiting a U.S. government-backed bankruptcy. It also has to contend with the increasing popularity of Hyundai Motor Co.'s vehicles all over the world.
Combined with the production disruptions due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the strengthening yen led to Japan's first yearly trade gap since 1980, according to government data recently released.
In order to protect a domestic industry suffering under the yen's appreciation and natural disasters, the government in Japan started waiving some taxes last month as well as offering rebates for certified low-emission vehicles, allotting 300 billion yen or $3.8 billion in the fiscal budget. [source: Autonews]