Toyota Motor Corp. Chairman Hiroshi Okuda said Monday that Japan’s top automaker plans to sell 8.5 million vehicles worldwide in 2006 and to double its overseas production in the 2010s.

The sales target, including sales by subsidiaries Hino Motors Ltd. and Daihatsu Motor Co., would represent a jump of more than 1 million units from the 7.22 million forecast for this fiscal year. The company produced 2.59 million cars at its overseas plants in 2003.

“We will establish production structure that is able to respond to expanding markets in a timely manner,” he told reporters and analysts in Tokyo. “We need to expand our production bases in North America, China and Russia.”

He said the automaker will boost annual production capacity in China from 135,000 units now to 335,000 by mid-2006.

Meanwhile, just as the company hopes to be fully accepted as a “U.S. citizen” given its growing presence in the most important market, Okuda said it will stick to some traditional Japanese business practices.

He said Toyota will keep tight grip on the “keiretsu” system to maintain control over its component suppliers.

Keiretsu, a group of companies often knit together by cross-shareholdings, was once criticized overseas as anticompetitive.

Okuda expressed concern that automakers are facing greater risks of losing their controlling position over suppliers of high-tech electronic components, because such parts are increasingly vital in automobiles.

“We have to hold (these makers within the keiretsu) tightly,” he said. “It determines life or death for our company.”

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