Toyota Motor's 2010 China Car Sales May Overtake Europe's for First Time

Toyota Motor Corp.’s sales in China may overtake those in Europe for the first time this year.

The world’s biggest carmaker expects sales in Europe to reach 800,000 units in 2010, down 10 percent from 886,000 vehicles last year, Didier Leroy, president of Toyota’s European unit said in Paris yesterday.

The forecast contrasts with the carmaker’s plan to boost deliveries in China 13 percent this year to more than 800,000 vehicles, outlined by Masahiro Kato, president of the company’s China business, on Aug. 24. In the past, Toyota’s sales in China have never exceeded deliveries in Europe, said Shiori Hashimoto, a spokeswoman in Tokyo.

“Toyota’s China share will remain about 5 percent, and as the market grows, sales will approach 1 million units” within a few years, said Mamoru Kato, a Nagoya, Japan-based auto analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center. “Meanwhile, the European market is not growing.”

The Japanese automaker and rivals including General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. are expanding in China as economic growth boosts car buying in the world’s largest vehicle market. Passenger-car deliveries in China accelerated in August, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Sept. 9, and sales in the nation are on course to outstrip the U.S. for a second year.

Toyota’s China sales still lag behind those in North America and Japan.

Verso, Wish

The automaker, based in Toyota City, Japan, slipped 2.5 percent to close at 2,998 yen in Tokyo.

To boost sales, Toyota plans to make its Verso and Wish compact minivans in China with local partners in 2011, and will also import the luxury Alphard, a larger minivan, Marvin Zhu, a senior analyst at J.D. Power & Associates, said in a report this month. The Verso will be produced with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. in Guangdong province, while the Wish will be manufactured with China FAW Group Corp, Shanghai-based Zhu said.

Industry-wide vehicle sales in western Europe will dip 8.2 percent this year to 12.5 million units, the lowest figure since 1995, according to consulting company IHS Automotive. Sales will likely be little changed next year, according to Ian Fletcher, an IHS analyst in London.

The decline is largely due to the end of government incentives in countries including Germany, the U.K. and Italy, which prompted many consumers to push forward their car purchases, Fletcher said.

Toyota is introducing new hybrid models in Europe as new emissions regulations from 2014 may benefit hybrid and electric cars over diesel-powered vehicles. The carmaker started selling the U.K.-built Auris hybrid in Europe in July and will begin building a small hybrid model in France from 2012.

To contact the reporter on this story: Makiko Kitamura in Tokyo at mkitamura1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kae Inoue at kinoue@bloomberg.net

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