Toyota Motor Corp aims to sell around 10.4 million vehicles worldwide in 2009, up 18 percent from last year as it grabs market share in North America and taps growing demand in China and other emerging economies, business daily Nikkei reported on Wednesday.

Clearing the 10 million milestone would be an auto industry first and likely cement Toyota's position as the world's biggest car maker. Toyota surpassed General Motors Corp to take the top spot in 2006, according to Automotive News.

It is incrementally good news, said CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets auto analyst Christopher Richter, who estimates Toyota's sales for 2009 at 10.2 million units. They continue to win share in the U.S. market and that's more than made up for what the direction of the market has taken of late, he added.

U.S. auto sales dropped in July as weakness in the housing market sapped demand, raising concern about the further impact of credit squeeze on U.S. consumption.

The Nikkei newspaper said the new target includes sales by subsidiaries Hino Motors Ltd and Daihatsu Motor Co Ltd and the plan will be announced on August 31 when the company is expected to hold a briefing on business plan.

In 2006, Toyota sold 8.8 million vehicles, slightly falling short of General Motors Corp's 9.1 million, according to the Nikkei.

Toyota declined to comment on the news report.

Toyota is cranking up market share in mature regions such as North America and Europe with fuel-efficient cares such as the Prius hybrid and RAV4 crossover as well as entry into the full-sized pickup truck segment with the Tundra.

Detroit-based weekly Automotive News said in June that Toyota outsold GM by about 128,000 units last year based on a technicality that excludes sales of vehicles at minority-held subsidiaries. GM, meanwhile, has claimed the top spot for 76 years, including 2006.

Richter of CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets said Toyota will likely gain a sizable lead against GM going forward.

Now the gap between them is very small and Toyota is slightly number one. But the image I have when I look at it is that the gap between these companies will get bigger as time passes, he said.

The Nikkei report failed to lift Toyota shares, which ended down 0.5 percent at 6,500 yen. The benchmark Nikkei average finished the day virtually flat.