Toyota Motor Corp expects its European sales to grow five to 10 percent in 2009, after a 5 percent rise forecast for next year, a top executive of the automaker's regional operations said on Tuesday.
We don't see a slowdown in our momentum, Thierry Dombreval, chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Europe, said in an interview at the Frankfurt International Motor Show, adding that its product cycle would drive an accelerated rate of growth in 2009.
Toyota, the world's biggest automaker, has forecast sales of 1.22 million vehicles in Europe this year, up about 100,000 units from 2006 and marking the 11th straight year of record sales.
While some other Asian carmakers have lost steam in Europe, Toyota has steadily increased its market share as it adds more diesel-fuelled models and beefs up its small-car line-up.
In the last three to five years, only Toyota has achieved breakthrough growth among Asian brands, said Dombreval, who joined Toyota in 2002 from Renault SA. Toyota's market share in Europe has almost doubled in the last few years to nearly 6 percent, he noted.
While Dombreval conceded that Toyota's performance in Europe would never reach the level of success it has achieved in the United States -- Toyota is expected to overtake Ford Motor Co as the number two brand there this year -- he said he expected stable growth to continue, partly led by a broader product portfolio.
Toyota on Tuesday unveiled the iQ microcar concept, which Dombreval said was not too far from the production version and would be positioned below the Aygo minicar, jointly developed and manufactured with PSA Peugeot Citroen.
The iQ concept, which seats three adults and has one more space for either a child or luggage, is 2.98 metres long -- just 28 cm longer than Mercedes' Smart car -- making it the world's smallest four-seater car, it said.
Toyota expects Europe to account for around 14 percent of its consolidated global sales in 2010. Next year, its production capacity in the region will reach 825,000 vehicles, accounting for around 70 percent of sales.