TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp. is building or expanding factories from Guangzhou, China, to St. Petersburg, Russia; from Australia to the Czech Republic.
But when Toyota ranks its top growth prospects, no market can match the United States. So it is pouring resources into the high-potential U.S. market.
That's bad news for the domestic Big 3, which are struggling to maintain market shares on their home turf.
"In the United States, if they put in a plant, it will fill up. You can't say the same in Europe" or in all other markets, says Ashvin Chotai, an auto analyst at the market research firm Global Insight, which is based in London.
Toyota raised its U.S. sales by 200,247 vehicles in 2005 compared with 2004. That increase was more than its total 2005 sales of 185,987 in China.
Toyota will grow smartly in China this year, after opening a new factory to build Camrys in Guangzhou in late May.
Still, Toyota's sales growth in China over the next several years will lag that in the United States, Chotai forecasts (see table).
Toyota is No. 1 in Japan, but so what? "This market is not growing," says Toshiyuki Shiga, Nissan Motor Co.'s COO.