Toyota Wants 50% of Sales in Emerging Markets by 2015

Toyota will launch 10 new gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles by 2015 while also developing electric cars and fuel-cell powered vehicles.

Toyota Motor said on March 9 that it aims to make half its global sales in emerging markets by 2015, as it sought to begin a new chapter after being hit by millions of recalls and the financial crisis.

The firm said it aimed to double operating profit to 1 trillion yen ($12 billion) from estimated levels this year "as soon as possible." Toyota hopes to reach an operating profit of about 1 trillion yen as soon as possible, nearly double the 550 billion yen operating profit it is projecting for the current fiscal year. It aims to boost the ratio of operating profit to sales to 5% from an estimated 2.9% for the current fiscal year, even in what it called a tough business environment.

The company also said it would slash its board of directors to 11 from 27 "to improve decision making. Detractors view the shake-up as an effort by Toyoda to consolidate power, the Wall Street Journal reported this week, with insiders viewing it as part of a struggle for influence pitting the Toyoda family against non-family factions.

Toyota will also establish a "regional advisory committee" as it looks to add a more global perspective to what has been criticized as Japan-centric decision making. Regional advisors will include former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman and former General Motors vice president Mark Hogan.

Toyota's "Global Vision" aims to implement lessons learned from the global financial crisis that plunged the automaker into the red, and from the millions of recalls that tarnished its once stellar image for quality.

"In 2010 we achieved 60% of our sales in industrialized countries and 40% in emerging markets," said company president Akio Toyoda, unveiling the plan on March 9.

"I want the proportion to increase to 50/50 in 2015," Toyoda -- the publicity-shy grandson of the company's founder -- said, adding that China, the world's largest car market, could soon comprise 15% of global sales.

Global sales reached 8.42 million units in 2010 and could soon reach 10 million, Toyoda suggested, adding the company's focus was not on numerical targets.

Toyota will launch 10 new gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles by 2015 while also developing electric cars and fuel-cell powered vehicles.

Japan's automakers have returned to profitability since the financial crisis but a pick-up in demand has been overshadowed by the impact of the strong yen, making their products more expensive overseas and eroding profits.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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