Toyota Motor will raise its projected global production to almost 10 million vehicles next year, and could soon outpace U.S. rival General Motorsto become the world's largest automaker, a newspaper reported.
Japan's top automaker plans to raise its output projection for 2008 to 9.95 million vehicles worldwide from 9.90 million projected for the current year, the Nikkei business newspaper said. It did not say where it got the information.
The production increase reflects booming sales in China, the Middle East and other emerging economies, the Nikkei said.
Toyota officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the report.
Toyota reported in November its worldwide production totaled 7.05 million vehicles in the first nine months of this year, just short of 7.06 million vehicles sold by GM for the same period.
Analysts expect Toyota to soon overtake GM as the world's largest automaker, however, as the Japanese company gains global popularity with its fuel-efficient models amid rising gas prices.
The Nikkei said Toyota's global output could surpass GM's as early as the end of this year.
Toyota is expecting a 4 percent increase in its global output to 9.42 million units this year, compared to GM's projected 9.26 million announced this month -- and if that happens, Toyota would become the world's largest automaker for the first time, the Nikkei said.