Toyota Trims ’09 Outlook Plans Electric Car Businessweek

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Toyota Trims ’09 Plans Electric Car

The Japanese giant has slashed its sales for 2009 by 7%, but demand for green will ease the pain

a sign of how tough times are for the automakers when even (TM), the world’s most automaker and soon to be the biggest, has to sales forecasts. In Tokyo on 28, Toyota President Katsuaki said the company now expects to 9.7 million vehicles in 2009, from a previous figure of million.

The news should as no surprise, given high prices, rising raw material and the lingering impact of the subprime Even so, the current downturn in the Europe, and Japan has been than the company expected. We thought a greater number of would be sold, Watanabe reporters at a wide-ranging press The economic environment, the crude oil and the raw-material cost trends not accurately forecast.

The sales revision follows a 28% in net earnings (, 8/7/08), by a stronger yen and weak U.S. for the three months ended in Toyota had earlier revised projections for the current year to 9.5 vehicles from 9.85

Winning the Race

For all the doom and Watanabe appeared relatively about Toyota’s prospects. reiterating the medium-term goal for the to achieve an operating margin of he pointed out that 9.7 million still be 200,000 higher 2008 and highlighted the growing of emerging markets to the company’s growth plans. What he say is that 9.7 million vehicles almost likely make it the largest automaker for a second in 2009. (Toyota, neck and with General Motors in 2007, is expected to unseat the automaker this year.)

Watanabe also reaffirmed commitment to greener motoring, that the company will two new hybrids at the North American Auto Show in January. One be a new version of the Prius that use the third generation of Toyota’s system. The second will be the hybrid-only car (, 7/2/08) with a Lexus nameplate.

for the first time, Toyota plans to launch a new electric car in the 2010s. While skimpy on Watanabe and Executive Vice-President Takimoto said that, the limitations of current battery Toyota’s EV would likely be a vehicle limited to commuting or driving. For more widespread Toyota still is betting on as a more practical solution to demand for environmentally friendly gas it plans to sell more 1 million per year in the early of the next decade.

We consider electric vehicles as one of the for sustainable mobility, [but] for the being the most realistic is to use the electric vehicle for short-distance said Takimoto.

Expansion the mature markets of Europe, and North America is vital for to achieve its revised sales In China, it overtook Honda in 2007 as the biggest Japanese Toyota is adding a second to its plant in Guangzhou next and will open 350 new dealerships 1/18/08) between now and 2010, the total to 850.

In resource-rich Russia, dealerships be doubled, to almost 150. In and India, large markets Toyota trails rivals, it add new specially designed compact in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

on the iQ

By contrast, plans for Europe, and North America are more with stability and adapting lineups to fast-changing customer In Europe, that means models that produce carbon dioxide, including the later this year of the iQ, a city car which produces 99g/km of CO2. In total, is planning 18 low-emissions vehicles for in 2008 and ’09.

In the U.S. Toyota opened a large pickup factory in San Antonio in just before the market for trucks lost steam, the is busy reorganizing production. For the time, its Prius hybrid be built in the U.S. in Mississippi, large-truck production is being at the Texas plant. As part of the Toyota is suspending production at U.S. plants for three

That’s something Watanabe, who visit Toyota’s North operations next week, as a very, very difficult to make. In all, the changes 4,500 Toyota employees, none will be laid Instead, Toyota is asking to keep busy by doing from training programs to in at assembly lines elsewhere or out in local communities.

Toyota’s new for North American sales in is 2.7 million, the same number of it plans to sell this but down from a previous of 3 million. Still, Watanabe is the company will benefit in the term from the changes—not when the auto market up. While unwilling to make beyond 2009, in the U.S. it is for the economy to remain stagnant for he says.

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