Toyota Motor has raised its 2007 sales projection for China due to solid sales of small cars, the automaker was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Toyota spokesman Naoki Oku told the Associated Press (AP) that his company (which appears to be on track soon to overtake General Motors as the world's top car maker), had raised its 2007 China sales estimate to 480,000 cars - from 430,000 - due to the popularity of the Vios small car and the newly introduced [and locally made] Camry, after selling 308,000 cars there last year.

The Vios, also made and sold in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia/Pacific, is a sedan derivative of the popular Yaris hatchback line and was first introduced in China in 2003 as a model line that included versions trimmed with leather and 'wood'. It was fully redesigned for 2007.

In 2008, Toyota aims to boost sales in China - the world's second biggest market after the US - to 700,000 vehicles, or 46% higher than the expected sales for this year, Oku reportedly said. The rise is partly because the company will begin local production of the Yaris, he added according to AP.

The news agency noted that Toyota has said previously it aims to sell 1m vehicles a year in China sometime soon after 2010. Oku reportedly said it is too early to say how soon Toyota can achieve the goal.

Some Japanese car maker executives expect annual vehicle sales in China to grow to 10m about 2010, up 39% from the 7.2m sold in 2006, AP added.

According to a company statement, Toyota is displaying 42 concept and production vehicles at Auto Guangzhou 2007 which opened earlier this week and runs until 26 November.

The 42 Toyota and Lexus vehicles on display is the largest number ever for TMC at the Guangzhou event, now in its fifth year, the automaker noted.

During a show press conference, TMC senior managing director Akira Sasaki said: "Toyota is committed to accelerating the expansion of its business operations in China, while making product quality a top priority and developing new and improved environmental and safety technologies."

Toyota said it would start making the Yaris in Guangzhou from around the middle of 2008.

As well as vehicles, other displays are introducing Toyota's advanced environmental and safety technologies to Chinese consumers.

In the environmental technology area, concept vehicles are on display, including the Hybrid X and a cutaway model of the engine used in the Lexus LS600h.