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Toyota to target output of 9.9m units
December 20, 2012
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TOKYO: Toyota Motor Corporation will keep its global output target for 2013 nearly unchanged from this year at 9.9 million vehicles despite a production cut at home, the Nikkei reported.

The leading Japanese automaker aims to produce 5.6 million Toyota and Lexus brands outside Japan next year, up more than 6 per cent from its 2012 target, the business daily said.

In Japan, it will manufacture 3.1 million vehicles, down 10 per cent from this year’s target, the daily said.

The remainder of the company’s production will come from its subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor Co and Hino Motors

Toyota also cut its Japanese sales target to 1.36 million units for next year, down about 20 per cent from its projection for this year, the Japanese daily reported.

The Japanese new-car market is expected to shrink in 2013 because subsidies for environmentally friendly vehicles have expired, the paper added.

The company’s global group sales will likely reach a record 9.7 million units for 2012, beating the 9.37 million units sold in 2007, the daily said, and make Toyota the world’s No. 1 automaker. It was No. 3 in 2011.

Last month, the company had trimmed its group-wide production forecast for calendar year 2012 to 9.89 million units in the wake of plunging car sales in China following a territorial row between Asia’s two biggest economies. The automaker slashed production in China by 40-50 per cent following anti-Japan protests in September, the business daily said, adding that the company had a target of selling 1 million vehicles there this year. Toyota Motor has agreed to a record fine of $17.35 million for failing to report a safety defect to the US government in a timely manner, but maintained it has done nothing wrong.

Toyota announced a recall of 154,036 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h vehicles in June to address a risk that a loose floormat could force down the accelerator pedal.

The US Department of Transportation said the fine was the highest ever for not initiating a recall in a timely manner. This year’s recall followed a string of damaging safety recalls from Toyota, the world’s top automaker, since 2009.

Certain unintended acceleration claims made against some  models caused a worldwide recall of nearly 19 million vehicles from late 2009 to early 2011.

Toyota in a statement said it agreed to the settlement without admitting any violation of its US safety obligations.

“We agreed to this settlement in order to avoid a time-consuming dispute and to focus fully on our shared commitment with NHTSA to keep drivers safe,” Ray Tanguay, chief quality officer of Toyota North America, said in a statement. The Department of Transport’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it contacted Toyota in May after it noticed a trend of “floor mat pedal entrapments” in vehicle owner questionnaires.

Toyota advised the safety agency a month later that it was aware of 63 alleged incidents and said it would launch the recall. Federal law requires automakers to notify the agency within five business days of determining that a safety defect exists and to conduct a recall.

“Every moment of delay has the potential to lead to deaths or injuries on our nation’s highways,” said David Strickland, the Administrator of the highway safety agency.

The penalties come a month after Toyota said it would recall about 2.77 million vehicles worldwide, including some of its popular Prius hybrid cars, for steering and water pump problems. The carmaker was fined a total of $48.8 million in civil penalties in 2010 as a result of three separate investigations into its handling of vehicle recalls.

Analysts said on Tuesday’s NHTSA fine would not have any significant impact on demand.

“Consumers tend to gloss over these events. A lot of the decision-making is based on products in the showroom, and in that respect, Toyota is very competitive,” Polk analyst Tom Libby said.

Matthew Stover, an analyst with Guggenheim Securities, said there would be minimal financial impact from the penalties. “Recalls in general don’t have an impact on sales like they used to,” Stover said.


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