As predicted by Japanese media on Friday, Toyota Motor on Monday slashed profit, revenue and unit sales forecasts for the fiscal year ending 31 March, blaming both the global automobile market slump and a sharp appreciation in the Japanese yen against major currencies.

Toyota cut its net profit forecast a massive 91% to JPY50bn (US$556m) from JPY550bn and said it would now make an operating loss of JPY150bn versus an earlier projection of a JPY600bn operating profit. Some Japanese reports said this would be the firm's worst result since 1941.

According to Dow Jones, Toyota said the dismal forecasts came "in response to the unexpected degree of the slowdown in the automotive market, and the revision of the assumed exchange rates in response to further appreciation of the yen."

The company has also lowered its full-year unit group sales forecast - including minicar affiliate Daihatsu and truck maker Hino Motors - to 7.54m from its previous reduced estimate of 8.24m vehicles in November.

The latest sales forecast is an 18% decline over the 8.9m units sold in the fiscal year ended 31 March, 2008.

The company now expects US sales of 2.17m units - 250,000 units lower than its previous projection - while Japan sales are forecast to drop by an additional 70,000 units to 2.01m, the news agency said.

Europe sales were expected to drop even more sharply, to 1.04m units from 1.21m forecast earlier.

Toyota has also factored in a costlier yen - 93 to the dollar and 123 for a euro - for its latest projections, in the wake of the steep appreciation for the Japanese currency since November.