• Kyodo, Bloomberg, JIJI


Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday its group plans to sell 10.77 million vehicles worldwide in 2020, slightly up from 10.72 million vehicles estimated for this year, nudging it closer to No. 1 automaker Volkswagen AG.

The figure would mark an all-time high for the fourth consecutive year and top 10 million units for the seventh straight year.

Volkswagen sold 10.8 million units in 2018 and said in October it expects deliveries to be little changed this year.

Overseas sales are expected to grow 2 percent to 8.50 million vehicles, offsetting a 4 percent fall in domestic sales to 2.26 million units. The global sales include those of vehicles sold by its two subsidiaries, minicar-manufacturer Daihatsu Motor Co. and truck-maker Hino Motors Ltd.

The Toyota group plans to raise global production by 1 percent to 10.90 million vehicles next year from 2019, with overseas output accounting for 6.49 million units, up 4.3 percent.

Toyota released the projections as the auto industry is struggling amid prolonged trade friction between the United States and China.

Toyota’s own domestic production in 2020 is expected to fall 5.3 percent to 3.24 million units but will remain above the 3 million threshold for retaining the company’s current labor force.

Automakers are fighting to sell cars in a difficult environment, with tepid economic growth worldwide and trade tensions forcing them to cut profitability outlooks and slash more than 80,000 jobs. At the same time, they are seeking new growth by investing in a once-in-a-generation industry shift toward electric vehicles, self-driving technologies and ride-on-demand business models.

New car sales in China, the world’s biggest auto market, for this year is likely to come below the 28.08 million units logged in 2018, the second straight yearly decline, according to the latest data from an industry group.

Car manufacturers have also come under increased pressure to raise competitiveness as consumer demand shifts to autonomous, electric and connected vehicles, which require hefty investments and advanced technologies.

As electric motors, autonomous capabilities and new mobility services disrupt the industry, Toyota has been forging alliances, adding Suzuki Motor Corp., Mazda Motor Corp. and Subaru Corp. through partnerships and equity stakes. Alliances are becoming ever more critical in the global auto industry as manufacturers seek to pool resources and save costs. Ford has teamed up with Volkswagen, while Honda Motor Co. and General Motors Co. are working together.

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