Toyota aims to sell 10 million cars by 2015

Toyota Motor Corp. is aiming for an auto industry first by reaching annual sales of 10 million vehicles by 2015 even as it acknowledges that overly rapid growth was at the root of its recall fiasco.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda gave the 10 million figure Wednesday while outlining the company’s “global vision” in his first major strategy announcement since the recall crisis that hit a year and a half ago.

The Japanese automaker reported worldwide sales of 8.42 million vehicles last year — 30,000 more than General Motors Co.’s 8.39 million. Toyota dethroned GM as the world’s No. 1 automaker by vehicle sales in 2008 — a position GM held for 76 years.

Speaking at a Tokyo hotel, Toyoda said the car maker wants to make millions of customers happy, and even denied he was giving a numerical sales target. He repeatedly emphasized goals like quality controls, customer satisfaction and solid profits.

Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models, hopes to achieve an annual operating profit of 1 trillion yen ($12 billion) “as soon as possible,” even if the yen remains strong and vehicle sales drop by 20 percent, Toyoda said.

He said the vision was based on what the company had learned from its quality problems and the sales hammering from the global financial crisis of 2009.

Since late 2009, Toyota has announced recall after recall, covering a wide range of defects, including faulty floor mats, sticky gas pedals and glitches in braking software, ballooning to more than 14 million vehicles globally.

The company paid the U.S. government a record $48.8 million in fines for its handling of three recalls. Toyota faces dozens of lawsuits from owners in the U.S., including fatalities allegedly linked to defects.

Last month, U.S. regulators closed their 10-month investigation, clearing Toyota of electronic flaws, and finding mechanical problems covered by the recalls took care of the unintended acceleration cases.

The company has said quality problems emerged as it went through a period of rapid growth.

Toyoda said the automaker’s board of directors will be reduced to 11 from 27, but the number of executives overseas will be boosted to 15 from 13, to make for quicker decision-making and to be more responsive to regional needs.

One big change from past visions was that the latest was written in English, which Toyoda said was the world’s international language.

Toyoda often switched into English during the presentation, using phrases like “smiles from customers around the world,” and “our commitment to quality and constant innovation.”

Toyota will also focus more on emerging markets for new growth, aiming for 50 percent of its sales from those nations, up from the current 40 percent.

“This vision is about what kind of company we are, our values and the road to what kind of company we want to be,” Toyoda said.
Source: AP

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