Toyota sets tough sales goal

Toyota aims to sell 1.4 million vehicles in China in 2018, nearly 9 per cent more than it sold last year.

The sales goal announced by Japan’s biggest automaker on Friday comes at a time when the world’s biggest auto market is experiencing a slowdown in overall vehicle sales growth.

China’s overall vehicle market growth was the weakest last year in at least two decades, increasing only 3 per cent year-on-year to 28.88 million vehicles.

Two insiders at the Japanese automaker said that the target is however more of a “stretch goal.” It is a target that is not the baseline sales forecast and one that executives acknowledge will be difficult to achieve, they said.

“If we could resolve this capacity issue, it would be easy to make the 1.4 million target. With sufficient capacity, we can possibly sell 1.5 million vehicles,” one of the two people said.

Toyota’s forecast for 2018 is relatively more upbeat than the previous few years in part because it expects to launch a couple of potentially high-volume subcompact sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) later this year, the people said.

A Toyota spokesman said that though the 2018 sales target was not one that can be easily achieved due to the highly competitive market environment, the recent launch of a redesigned Camry sedan and the planned introduction of two subcompact SUVs later this year would enable Toyota to challenge the previous year’s numbers.

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