Toyota’s sales growth in Europe in the next seven years will be far more rapid than it was in the United States in the 1990s, Takis Athanasopoulos, Toyota Marketing Europe’s executive vice president, has predicted.

Toyota aims to achieve European sales of 1.2 million in 2010. Last year the company sold around 800,000 units in Europe.

“That growth rate will be twice as fast as we achieved in the US, where it took us 14 years to reach 1.2 million unit sales,” said Athanasopoulos.

During the 1990s Toyota slowly built up North American sales to win 11% of the US auto market. Toyota’s goal is to increase its market share in Europe to 8% as part of its ‘2010 Global Vision’ strategy to become the world’s largest automaker.

Athanasopoulos said Toyota’s strategic focus on quality will help boost growth. “That strategy already has driven us from being a niche importer to a major player,” he told the Automotive News Congress in Montreux.