Toyota Motor Corp. is retaliating on the home base of Volkswagen Group, which surpassed the Japanese automaker in worldwide car sales in 2011. This year, Toyota is introducing the GT 86 sports coupe and the Yaris hybrid, which is the first hybrid subcompact in Europe, in an effort to regain market share in the region after sales dropped 41% since 2007.
In addition, the Japanese company will equip its automobiles with diesel engines from BMW beginning 2014 in order to further strengthen business in Europe. Toyota's European boss Didier Leroy commented that it is "unacceptable" for the company to be at this volume level in the European region.
Leroy further stated that they made themselves "much leaner, much more agile" by streamlining the decision-making process for the past two years through reducing management layers. He also shared that they "strongly went for the fighting spirit" in all the things they do, according to Autonews.
The shakeup will possibly pay off in 2012, with the Japanese automaker forecasting its first European profit in five years. Specifically, its market share in the European Union is expected to widen to 6.6% from 5.7% in 2011. On the other hand, the VW brand drops to 18.2% from 18.5%, based on IHS Automotive's data.
By achieving profits in the European region, Toyota is aiming to stop VW from becoming the largest carmaker in the world, surpassing General Motors Co. Last year, Toyota lost its No. 1 position, down to the third spot, due to the earthquake in Japan as well as the effects of worldwide recall in 2010 and 2009. VW jumped to the second rank.
Jonathon Poskitt, who is the European sales forecasting boss at Oxford, England-based LMC Automotive, commented that Toyota's real issue is "winning back customers." He explained that the automaker "really needs" to refocus on the "requirements of what are sophisticated European customers that already have a great choice in new vehicles."