Having revised and increased its production forecast in July, it is no surprise that Toyota has announced strong Q1 results. The company benefited strongly from sales in overseas markets, which were up by 65.1% on the same quarter a year ago. Having successfully penetrated the US and much of the rest of the world, Toyota should now turn its attentions to the emerging markets of China and India.

Toyota has reported a net income of Y287 billion ($US2.57 billion) for Q1 2004 compared with Y222.6 billion ($1.99 billion) in the same quarter last year while sales jumped 10% to Y4.51 trillion ($40.4 billion) from Y4.09 trillion ($36.6 billion). Its profit for the quarter was slightly more than the combined profits of General Motors and Ford Motor for the same period.

One of the key elements of Toyota's success lies in its global appeal. Sales in overseas markets increased by 65.1% over the same period last year. This is largely due to Toyota's growth in the Asia Pacific region and the US, although Toyota increased its profitability over the same period the previous year in all the regions in which it operates. Toyota successfully infiltrated and performed strongly in the highly competitive US market, mostly thanks to growing sales of minivans and sport-utility vehicles. The company has also made significant inroads into other regions around the world such as Europe and its home market Japan.

However, the majority of these markets are fairly saturated and are therefore experiencing limited or no growth. The key markets for the future are in the Indian sub-continent region and in Asia Pacific, most notably China. Toyota has already made strong inroads into both China and India and the company is expecting to develop its presence there even further. Both these economies are expected to grow quickly in the next few years and Toyota is in a strong position to capitalize on these developments.

Many vehicle manufacturers are heavily reliant on their domestic markets. Several of the larger manufacturers have crossed into the global marketplace and have developed international appeal, resulting in a growing and vibrant sales outlet in several new markets. However, very few manufacturers have been as successful as Toyota in this regard. In July, the company again increased its level of production, by 180,000 units to 7.2 million units, firmly placing it within close reach of GM, the leading vehicle manufacturer in the world.

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