Toyota president Akio Toyoda said he’s looking forward to a drama-free year after disasters in Japan and Thailand badly hit production, causing the company to lose its global sales lead to General Motors.

He told reporters the company had “hit rock bottom” but is now turning the corner.

He added: “What we want more than anything is for nothing to go wrong this year.”

Toyota is forecasting group sales to climb 21% to a record 9.58m vehicles this year but the automaker's chief complained that the Japanese currency was still too strong and needed to weaken to about 95 to 100 to the US dollar.

Toyoda said the company plans to focus on increasing sales of hybrid vehicles in China and reiterated plans to maintain Japanese production of 3m vehicles annually.

However, Toyota will not follow Nissan, Japan’s second-biggest carmaker, to introduce a low-end brand.