Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it expects its group’s global production for calendar 2004 to hit a record 7.54 million units 260,000 more than an earlier forecast thanks to brisk overseas sales.

“We hope that (both) overall global sales and production, including (those at) subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd., will reach 7 million vehicles for the first time,” President Fujio Cho said during a news conference in Tokyo.

Global sales are now estimated at 7.39 million units, 310,000 more than originally projected.

Overseas sales at Toyota alone for 2004 are now expected to hit a record 4.85 million vehicles, exceeding its initial forecast by 280,000 units, thanks to rapid sales growth in Asia and Europe.

In Europe, Toyota sold some 502,000 vehicles during the first half of 2004, up 15 percent from a year earlier, led by strong demand for the Prius hybrid car and the Avensis sedan. The company sold 310,000 units in Asia, up 32 percent, as the Vios sedan and the Hilux pickup truck enjoyed brisk sales.

Sales in North America, especially in the United States, play an important role in boosting overseas sales.

Sales for the continent rose 11 percent to 1.12 million vehicles during the first half, with more than 1 million coming in the U.S., where the Siena minivan and the Lexus RX330 luxury sport utility vehicle are enjoying strong demand.

Japan’s largest automaker attained its sales target of 2 million units in North America last year, and said it hopes to achieve sales in the U.S. alone of 2 million this year.

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