Toyota's U.S. Sales may Fall for Second Year

The company is stepping up its focus on fast-growing markets such as China, India, Russia and Brazil.

In a close race with General Motors for the title of the world's top automaker, Toyota Motor may suffer a decline in U.S. sales for a second straight year, vice president Tokuichi Uranishi warned on June 24. The company has previously said it aims to exceed last year's U..S sales of 2.62 million vehicles in 2008.

"But we cannot help but say it's difficult to top last year's figure," vice president Tokuichi Uranishi told a meeting of shareholders in the central city of Nagoya.

Toyota suffered a two-percent decline in sales in the U.S. last year following a 12% gain the previous year. The company said earlier this month that it would cut production at three plants in Texas, Indiana and Alabama. Toyota sold 1.047 million Toyota or Lexus brand vehicles in the U.S. in the five months to May, down four percent from a year earlier, according to the company's figures.

Toyota has enjoyed brisk sales in recent years in the world's largest economy, but with the U.S. market now losing steam, the group is stepping up its focus on fast-growing markets such as China, India, Russia and Brazil.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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