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Toyota to push for place in UK top 5

Toyota GB has revealed an ambition to double its annual sales volume to more than 200,000 a year in the UK by 2010. The total includes Lexus and Toyota light commercials.

The plan was outlined to the manufacturer's 225 dealers this week at a conference in London. Toyota GB managing director Graham Smith said: “We aspire to place Toyota firmly in the top five manufacturers by UK sales.

“Our previous goal had been to achieve a 5% market share in Europe by 2005, with the British market a key part of that.

“We are at 4.4% this year in Britain and other markets are making similar good progress. Now the European target is 5% by 2003 – two years earlier than we thought.”

Toyota has set its new target for the UK as the industry ends the year in top gear – 1989's record registrations total was passed by the end of November.

Confidence is rising at Toyota GB which starts sales of the new Corolla on January 2, with the Ford Focus and VW Golf listed as its main targets. New Corolla is priced from £10,795 to £16,995.

Mr Smith said: “This growth will be progressive and driven by increased advertising and brand development. We will not make the mistake of seeking brand-damaging, short-term business. We forecast no growth in our current levels of rental business.”

He said that in the early Nineties, Toyota was one of the least favoured franchises due to low returns. The company set a goal of a 2% return on turnover for dealers which, on average, the network would achieve this year.

Mike Moran, Toyota GB commercial director, said that in 2010, he expected Ford and Vauxhall still to be the UK's two top-selling manufacturers. He forecast the next four to be Toyota, Volkswagen, Renault and Peugeot, though not necessarily in that order.

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