Toyota tells suppliers to prepare for growth

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota has told its suppliers in Japan to prepare for ramped up production in 2012 and following years, signaling that the automaker is confident it’s back on a growth track after being hit by massive recalls and the tsunami disaster.

Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman Paul Nolasco said Wednesday that there was a meeting with suppliers earlier this week so they could be ready to increase production. He said the numbers were guidelines, not targets.

Citing unidentified Toyota officials, Kyodo News reported that the plan for 2012 calls for production of 8.9 million vehicles — a record for Toyota — with 3.5 million vehicles produced in Japan and 5.4 million units overseas. Nolasco declined to confirm the numbers.

He said Toyota was pursuing a growth plan again, having recovered from the production disruptions caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan that destroyed key suppliers of auto parts.

Toyota on Tuesday said it plans to make 8.04 million vehicles around the world in 2011, and sell 7.9 million vehicles.

The automaker had been targeting global sales of 10 million vehicles for 2009 when it got hit by the global financial crisis.

It also suffered a serious blow to its reputation for quality with massive global recalls and complaints about unintended acceleration, mostly in the U.S.

Two days before Japan was struck by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake, President Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the automaker’s founder, outlined a global strategy aimed at achieving an industry first of annual sales of 10 million vehicles by 2015.

Toyota and other Japanese automakers have bounced back from the Japan disasters quicker than expected, and say their production is almost back to normal.

Although their profits and sales have been battered so far, they hope to make up for it in the second half of the fiscal year through March 2012 and expect relatively healthy annual profits.

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