Toyota Eyes Top Spot In 2007

Toyota's 2007 goals include a production target that would make it the world's top automaker.

Toyota announced Friday a global production target of 9.42 million units in 2007, which would likely push the Japanese auto manufacturer ahead of General Motors Corp. as the world’s No. 1 automaker.

Speaking at the company's year-end press conference, Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said he expects the automobile market to continue to grow globally, but also sees the competition becoming “more fierce,” while also citing concern over instability in the Middle East region and the continued high cost of oil.

Watanabe’s comments centered on improving quality, developing the company's employees and increasing attention on developing eco-friendly products.

“We are dedicated to the most important themes of safety and the environment,” Watanabe said. “Manufacturing products means developing people.”

Watanabe also expressed his “sincere apologies” regarding the multiple recalls experienced by Toyota recently.

“No growth can come without improving quality,” Watanabe said.

The company will be ramping up operations in new facilities in Russia, Thailand, and China in 2007, as well as manufacturing the new Camry Hybrid in Kentucky and opening a new engine plant in Japan, he said. Watanabe also highlighted Toyota's business collaboration with Isuzu to develop diesel engines.

Moving forward, hybrid technologies will be a “focused technology” at Toyota, according to Watanabe.

“Toyota is committed to rolling out new environmental technologies that are suited to the infrastructure of each region that will meet the needs of our customers.”

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