It’s safe to say Toyota has had a bittersweet year. On the bright side, the company recently unveiled some exciting new products like the 2013 Lexus GS and the Toyota 86/Scion FR-S. However, much of 2011 was marred by the disaster in Japan and the Thai floods, both of which have hampered production and sales. As a result, Toyota will lose its status as the world’s top carmaker to both General Motors and Volkswagen, a title it has held since 2008. But Toyota has plans to regain its lead by end of 2012.
According to the Automotive News, the automaker released a 2012 sales forecast of 8.48 million vehicles, a significant jump compared to the 7.90 million it’s estimated to sell this year. Many analysts, however, point out a number of obstacles that make the goal a stretch.
For starters, some analysts say Toyota is overly optimistic about forecasts in China, India, and other emerging markets where high sales numbers appear to be leveling off. Also, Japan’s currency continues to gain strength and now commands 77-78 yen per dollar, compared to 120 yen in 2007.
“The sales forecast is much higher than I expected, and to be honest, I doubt they can achieve the target,” Kohei Takahashi, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. told Bloomberg today. “The yen has gotten much stronger and they won’t be able to make any profit exporting cars.”
Toyota hopes to combat that issue by increasing production at its global plants including China and Brazil. More recently, the automaker announced its plan to start exporting U.S.-made Camrys to Korea to avoid both the rising yen and expensive tariffs.
“I believe the target is achievable given Toyota is quickly recovering production and launching new models,” Lee Hyun-soo, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities in Seoul said in an interview with Automotive News.”There will be cut-throat competition between Toyota, GM and Volkswagen for the top spot in the global market next year.”