Toyota to surpass GM as the largest automaker

NJ now SC Toyota to put GM in rearview mirror Report: Japanese firm to lift output to 9.2M cars in '06, topping GM as No. 1 auto manufacturer. October 26, 2005: 7:25 AM EDT TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp. will raise vehicle output by 11 percent next year, unseating General Motors Corp. as the world's biggest manufacturer of automobiles, a Japanese newspaper reported Wednesday. Toyota, whose profits and market value already dwarf those of its rivals, plans to raise group output to more than 9.2 million vehicles worldwide in 2006, or nearly 1 million more than its projection for 2005, business daily Nihon Keizai said. Excluding minivehicle and truck units Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd., Toyota's own-brand production will rise 12 percent to 8.3 million units next year, the newspaper said without citing sources. A Toyota official said the company had not yet finalized its production plans for next year. But one analyst said it was feasible given the pace of Toyota's expansion plans. "Given additional production and domestic and overseas plants that are scheduled to go on stream in FY2006/07 (ending March 2007), global production of about 8.3 million units can be reached," Merrill Lynch auto analyst Tatsuo Yoshida said in a note to clients. Helped by a reputation for building reliable and fuel-efficient vehicles, Toyota is picking up market share from loss-riddled GM (Research) in the U.S. company's home market. The Detroit giant's market share for October looks set to fall to a 25-year low of about 20.5 percent, according to New York-based Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache. Toyota had 13.4 percent of the U.S. market in September, more than Chrysler's 13.2 percent and up from 11.3 percent a year earlier, while GM's share fell to 25.9 percent from 31.7 percent. Like Toyota, GM has not announced production plans for 2006. But Japan's top auto manufacturer has said the group aims to sell 8.5 million vehicles in calendar 2006, which would likely keep it as the world's second-biggest seller of automobiles behind the GM group. Sales and production figures can differ widely depending on how much inventory an auto manufacturer and its dealers hold. In the first nine months of this year, the Toyota group built 6,124,434 vehicles worldwide. GM produced an estimated 6,718,000 units during that period, and sold 7,066,774 vehicles, up 3.7 percent from the same period last year. For all of 2005, GM has forecast global production of 9,115,000 vehicles. The Detroit-based auto manufacturer has been cutting back production at home to whittle down its bloated inventory, but it is expanding rapidly in China, where it is set to overtake Volkswagen AG as the No. 1 brand this year.