Toyota lifts full-year forecast for profit

Carmaker looking to emerging markets as established customer demand levels off

Toyota has been discussing at least 10 different areas for deeper co-operation with Mazda, from electric vehicles to connected cars.

Toyota has been discussing at least 10 different areas for deeper co-operation with Mazda, from electric vehicles to connected cars.

 

Toyota raised its full-year profit forecast as the yen’s rally stopped short of levels the carmaker predicted, providing some respite from a sales slowdown threatening its position as the world’s top seller.

Operating profit will probably be 1.7 trillion yen ($16.3 billion) for the year ending in March 2017, compared with the 1.6 trillion-yen forecast the company made in August.

Second-quarter net income fell 36 per cent to 393.7 billion yen, beating analysts’ estimates.

Peaking US

A peaking US car market, tepid demand for the new Prius hybrid and a dearth of other major new models in its showrooms have dragged Toyota behind scandal-hit Volkswagen in global deliveries this year.

The stronger yen is also reducing the value of record deliveries of RAV4 and other sport utility vehicles in overseas markets and making exports of Japan-made Prius and Lexus luxury vehicles less competitive.

“Going forward, our external environment is likely to remain challenging with the yen appreciation and ongoing changes in market conditions,” executive vice-president Takahiko Ijichi said on Tuesday at a press conference in Tokyo.

Weaker earnings aren’t keeping Toyota from continuing to return some of its hefty cash pile to shareholders.Toyota will buy back as much as 1.31 per cent of shares for 200 billion yen, the company said.

Toyota is now operating with the assumption that future expansion of the global auto market will entail plateauing or shrinking developed markets, balanced by higher demand in emerging countries, chief competitive officer Didier Leroy told reporters last month.

Non-sales growth

“If you consider the next, let’s say 20 years, the growth of the business for the automotive industry will not come from more and more sales,” Mr Leroy said. “It will come from a lot of other services”, he said, including car- and ride-sharing, connectivity and data management.

The technological shake-up has spurred Toyota to form a series of alliances. The carmaker made investments in ride-sharing leader Uber in May and car-sharing start-up Getaround last month. It will begin pilots with both companies by early next year.

Toyota has been discussing at least 10 different areas for deeper co-operation with Mazda, from electric vehicles to connected cars. President Akio Toyoda has also been exploring joint research and development with Suzuki that could cover similar fields. – (Bloomberg)