(Yicai Global) Feb. 17 -- President Donald Trump has planted several 'time bombs' for Toyota Motor Corp. [TYO: 7203] in the US -- the world's largest auto market -- the Japanese carmaker must win the decisive contest in China to ensure stable sales growth on the global market in 2017. Although it has already announced its global sales objectives, Toyota is being noncommittal over its sales target in the Chinese market for this year, which it does not want to blab to its rivals.
The company announced as early as December that its global sales target was 10.202 million units for this year, one percent higher than its projected total sales (10.091 million) for last year. It is worth noting that Toyota has still not disclosed its 2017 sales aims for the Chinese market -- as it has done in previous years. Last year, it set the Chinese sales target at 1.15 million units, up 2.4 percent from the year before.
One month on, the Japanese auto giant has kept mum about its goals for China. The target for this year is to top last year's performance, said Niu Yu, spokesman for Toyota Motor (China) Investment Co. (Toyota China) in an interview with Yicai Global. As for new model development plans, the company will share these with the public in due course, he said.
The US is Toyota's largest market. However, its sales dropped two percent year-on-year to 2.4496 million units there last year. Furthermore, Trump's broadsides at the company added to the uncertainty of its future in the US market. Will this shift Toyota's focus to the Chinese market?
Toyota sold 10.175 million cars worldwide last year. Its German rival Volkswagen AG [XETRA:VOW; GR:VOW] outsold Toyota by around 100,000 units to dislodge it from its position as the global best-seller. Volkswagen far outperformed the Japanese automaker in China, despite the small difference in global sales, and Toyota's performance in the Chinese market is widely seen as a key factor in its defeat. That year, Volkswagen sold 3.9822 units in China, up 12 annual percentage points. Its passenger cars made up as much as 50 percent of total sales in the national market. Over the same period, Toyota's sales in China gained eight percentage points per year to reach 1.214 million units, hitting an all-time high. However, the gap between them has further widened on the Chinese market.
Unlike Toyota China, its two affiliates -- FAW Toyota and GAC Toyota Motor -- have set their sales targets for this year. Yicai Global has learned that these are 700,000 units and 435,000 units, respectively, compared to 658,800 and 437,300 units sold last year. Both objectives are relatively conservative.