Toyota expects its global vehicle sales to grow by 5% this year as Japanese and American economies recover in the second half and new models roll into showrooms, Associated Press (AP) said in a report carried by the Wall Street Journal web site.

Although global competition is increasing, Toyota remains determined to win in this competition, Toyota president Fujio Cho told Associated Press.

AP cited Cho as saying that Toyota was confident because of the strong performance of its recent models, despite some emerging worries about a slowdown in the pace of the recovery on both sides of the Pacific.

Toyota’s world-wide sales would total 5.5 million vehicles in 2002, up from 5.26 million, Cho told AP.

Sales in Japan would total 1.75 million, up 2% from last year, while 3.75 million would be overseas, up 6%, AP added.

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Toyota declined to give Associated Press a regional breakdown in overseas sales, but said it expected the US car market to stay relatively strong at about 16 million vehicles a year, the news agency reported.