GENEVA - Toyota Motor Corp said on Monday it aimed to boost its market share in Europe to 6% in 2009 from 5.3% last year, although it expects industry-wide sales in the region to decline by nearly 30% to 15 million vehicles.
Sales of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles
totaled 21 million units in 2008 in the broader European market including Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, taking a sharp downturn toward the end of the year as the global economic crisis squeezed credit for would-be car buyers.
Toyota's sales in the region fell 8.6 percent to 1,146,000
vehicles last year, lowering its market share by 0.3%
We expect market share of 6 percent in 2009, based on new
products, Toyota Motor Europe's executive vice president,
Thierry Dombreval, told a small group of reporters ahead of the Geneva auto show. He declined to specify a sales volume target, but based on his forecast for the overall market, Toyota's saleswould come to around 900,000 vehicles.
After a drought of new products, Toyota, the world's biggest
automaker, said it would launch 16 new products in Europe this year including two hybrid cars: the third-generation Prius and the Lexus RX450h, to be displayed at the Geneva auto show opening this week. Toyota also unveiled the new Verso compact multi-purpose vehicle at a pre-show news conference on Monday.
Like other carmakers, Toyota has slashed production at its
European factories through temporary closures and other
measures, and is looking to introduce a work-sharing scheme to avoid shedding any permanent jobs in Europe.
Dombreval said he expected sales to fall by about a quarter
in Western Europe and as much as 40 percent elsewhere such as Russia, where the currency has collapsed and financing remains next to impossible.
He added that sales volumes would likely be lower in the
second half of 2009 compared with the first half, when various government incentives to buy cars were expected to support sales.
We have more bad news coming (in the second half),
Dombreval said, adding that could persist into the first half of
Still, Toyota is looking to outperform its rivals with the
16 new models, which it said would lower its fleet's average
carbon dioxide emissions to below 140 grams per kilometer, against an EU-wide average of 158 grams/km.
One sales driver would be the third-generation Prius, which
emits just 89 grams of CO2 per km and can run 100 km on 3.9 litres of petrol. That is an improvement from the current Prius' CO2 emission of 104 g/km and fuel economy of 4.3 litres/km, and outshines Honda Motor Co's upcoming, low-cost Insight hybrid's emission of 101 grams/km.
Tadashi Arashima, chief executive of Toyota's European
operations, told reporters he expected Toyota's sales of hybrid vehicles to grow by 15 percent in 2009 from the 58,000 sold last year, of which 41,000 came from the Prius.
Toyota will replace the current Prius with its new and
pricier successor starting in June in Europe.
Worldwide, Toyota is planning to launch 10 new hybrid models by the early 2010s, including a compact model smaller than the Prius, Toyota Executive Vice President Masatami Takimoto said.