Toyota’s 2006 European sales rose 13% to 1,124,119 vehicles – 1,073,549 Toyota and 50,570 Lexus – in a market up only 2.7%.

It was the 10th consecutive record year for the Japanese automaker, topped off by achieving the goal of over 1m unit sales for the Toyota brand in ‘greater Europe’, an increase of 11% over 2005.

Lexus sales rose 76%, passing the 50,000 unit mark for the first time. Market share rose 0.5 percentage points to 5.84% – the highest share ever for the company in Europe.

“The challenge for 2007 is to sell 1.22m units in Europe,” Toyota said in a statement.

Around 70% of all vehicles sold in Europe were built here – for 2006 that was 808,463 vehicles, 863,507 engines and 568,212 transmissions from plants in the UK, France, Turkey, Poland and the Czech Republic. For 2007, all plants will again operate at full capacity, with a new Camry plant in St Petersburg in Russia due to open at the end of the year.

Toyota’s key redesigned products last year were the largely European-built Yaris and imported RAV4. The Yaris was Toyota’s top seller in Europe with sales of 250,880 vehicles (+ 17%) while RAV4 sales rose 23% to 126,210.

The IS family, boosted by a diesel, albeit without automatic option, was Lexus’ biggest seller in 2006 (21,772 units, +275%), followed by the RX range (19,543 units, +35%) which includes a hybrid model. Hybrid vehicles accounted for 26% of Lexus sales and, together with the Prius, resulted in total Toyota hybrid sales of 36,016, an increase of 54%.

Germany was Toyota’s largest market in 2006, with sales of 141,097 vehicles (+8%), closely followed by United Kingdom (140,075 units, +1%) and Italy (138,199 units, +6%). The strongest growth was recorded in Russia (+63%), with sales reaching 108,959 units.

France also passed the 100,000 thousand mark for the first time, with 103,538 units sold (+13%).

A spokesman said: “2007 will be a demanding year for Toyota. We want to increase sales volume and market share in all European countries. We can only achieve this if we continue to put the customer first and deliver the highest quality.”

The company is currently showing the new Auris – replacing the UK-built Corolla – to journalists at an event in Barcelona.