Toyota Motor Corp. on Tuesday reported record sales and profits for the first half of fiscal 2006 and revised its projected operating profit to 2.2 trillion yen for the full year through March.

The half-year figures indicate the world’s No. 2 automaker is on course to become the first company in Japan to break the 2 trillion yen mark.

Toyota had previously forecast a drop from the previous year’s net profit of 1.37 trillion yen, due to the mounting cost of heavy investment in developing new technology and expanding its global production facilities.

The Toyota group’s operating profit for the April-September period jumped 35 percent to 1.09 trillion yen, while net profit surged 36.2 percent to 777.2 billion yen.

Sales for the period totaled 11.47 trillion yen, up 15.3 percent.

The Aichi Prefecture-based automaker, which has Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd. under its wings, attributed the strong performance to brisk sales in North America and Europe, the yen’s depreciation against the dollar and euro, and cost-reduction efforts.

Toyota sold 1.464 million vehicles in North America, an increase of 219,000.

“We were able to attain 10 trillion yen in sales and 1 trillion yen in operating profit for the first time in the first half,” Takeshi Suzuki, Toyota senior managing director, told reporters at a Tokyo hotel. “Even excluding the positive impact from the currency fluctuations, we were able to boost our earnings.”

Toyota said the weaker yen boosted operating profit by 190 billion yen, while cost-reduction efforts added 40 billion yen.

If the yen slides 1 yen against the dollar, it would elevate Toyota’s operating profit for the full year by 35 billion yen.

In terms of volume, Toyota’s global sales, including those by subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd., grew 8.1 percent to 4.14 million units for the half.

The group boosted sales in North America to 1.46 million units and in Europe to 589,000 vehicles.

“With fuel prices staying high, we know that demand for our fuel-efficient models has been strong and will remain so,” Suzuki said.

Although domestic sales slipped 1.2 percent to 1.07 million units, Toyota said it attained a 44.7 percent market share excluding minivehicles.

The automaker is expected to surpass General Motors Corp. to become the world’s largest carmaker in terms of global sales volume within the next few years.

Toyota said it expects car sales to reach 8.47 million vehicles for the year to March.

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