Toyota Motor Corp. announced Friday that it plans to become the first carmaker worldwide to sell more than 10 million vehicles in 2009 thanks to vigorous sales in emerging economies, including China.

Japan’s top carmaker said it plans to sell 10.4 million vehicles in 2009, up 6.1 percent from its 2008 forecast of 9.8 million. The figure includes units sold by subsidiaries Hino Motors Ltd. and Daihatsu Motor Co.

The announcement indicates Toyota’s business will likely remain strong in the coming years, even if it passes General Motors Corp. to become the world’s best-selling carmaker this year.

“Global car sales will continue to expand centering on the BRICs countries so we need to develop our products based on that,” said Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe in a news conference.

BRICs refers to Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Watanabe stressed that Toyota will remain committed to producing high-quality cars instead of getting into a race over quantity.

“If we improve our quality, it will result in (greater) quantity,” he said.

In 2009, Toyota plans to sell 3.1 million cars in North America, 1.45 million in Europe and 1.9 million in Asia.

Watanabe also said sales in China would rise to 1 million units in the early 2010s, compared with estimated sales of 430,000 units this year.

Toyota plans to sell 9.34 million units in 2007 and 9.8 million in 2008. If next year’s plan is fulfilled, Toyota will top GM’s sales record of 9.55 million units in 1978.

Watanabe promised to return some of that profit to shareholders, saying it would raise its dividend-to-net profit ratio to 30 percent “in the next three years or so.”

In the business year that ended in March, the ratio was 23.4 percent.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.