Toyota Motor Company released its fiscal first quarter earnings report for 2006 on Thursday, announcing a rise in net profit due to increased demand for its fuel efficient vehicles in the U.S. market.

The Japanese carmaker announced a net profit of 371.5 billion yen ($3.2 billion), a 39 percent increase from last year while revenue was 5.638 trillion yen ($49 billion), a rise of 13 percent from last year. Consolidated vehicle sales for the first quarter came to 2.09 million units, an increase of 143,000 units compared with the previous period of the last fiscal year.

"We posted substantial increases in both revenues and profits, achieving record levels,' TMC Senior Managing Director Takeshi Suzuki said. "We believe this is a result of company-wide efforts to implement the plans that we set at the beginning of this fiscal year.'

Toyota, with its peer Honda have been making deep inroads into the U.S. market, which is the world's largest car market, according to Ward's AutoinfoBank. In July, Toyota beat Ford to sell the most cars as its sales increased by 16 percent giving it a market share of 16.4 percent compared to Ford that had 15.3 percent. Honda sold more cars than Chrysler in the month.

The carmaker's strong sales in Europe and North America offset weaker demand in the Asian market, including Japan. In North America, the firm sold 747,000 units, an increase of 106,000 units due to the strong popularity of some car models including the newly introduced Yaris, while in Europe unit sales increased by 52,000. The firm's unit sales decreased 7,000 in Japan and 36,000 for the Asian market due to weaker demand, especially from Indonesia.

Takeshi said the outlook for consolidated profit for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2007 was unchanged.

"We are currently on track overall for the annual plan so far, with the exception of foreign exchange rates assumptions. Despite fluctuations in raw material prices, we aim for the outcome of each activity that we planned at the beginning of this fiscal year.'

The firm estimates that the projected consolidated vehicle sales for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007 will be 8.45 million units. Consolidated revenues and earnings projections for the fiscal year will be 22.3 trillion yen ($194 billion), operating income of 1.90 trillion yen ($16.6 billion) and net income of 1.31 trillion yen ($11.3 billion).