TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., the carmakers worst hit by Japan's March earthquake, forecast big rebounds to record global sales this year because of new models and restored supply.
Toyota wants to sell 8.58 million units worldwide in 2012. The figure excludes sales of two affiliates, truckmaker Hino Motors Ltd. and minicar specialist Daihatsu Motor Co. The target represents a 21 percent increase over worldwide sales in 2011 and tops Toyota's all-time sales record of 8.43 million units in 2007.
As part of that goal, Toyota aims to boost worldwide sales of its Lexus luxury brand by about a quarter, to about 500,000, this year, bringing Lexus close to levels reached before the global financial crisis slashed demand.
Lexus sold 404,000 vehicles worldwide last year, down from a peak of 518,000 in 2007.
Honda also appears to be shooting for record sales, according to comments by a senior executive.
During a press conference after the release of Honda's October-December fiscal third-quarter earnings last week, Senior Managing Officer Fumihiko Ike said the company has not formalized its outlook for 2012.
But President Takanobu Ito is gunning for worldwide sales of around 4 million, he said. That would be a record for Honda, too, beating its record 3.78 million in 2008.
"The outlook is still unclear, but last year was an extremely unusual year, so this year we want to leap ahead and expand," Ike said. Honda's suppliers, hammered by the March quake, were just starting to recover when flooding in Thailand inundated factories.
The rosy outlooks underscore the rapid rebound of Japanese automakers from last year's unprecedented quake-induced supply chain collapse. Toyota is now operating at full output, and Honda expects to be back to normal in April when its Thailand plant is back online.
A full pipeline will help boost sales, as will fresh product.
Toyota, Lexus and Scion will introduce 19 new, redesigned or refreshed models in the United States this year. Honda is launching a redesigned CR-V crossover and Accord sedan, while Acura is rolling out the redesigned RDX crossover and the new ILX sedan.
Honda sees U.S. sales surging 25 percent to 1.43 million in 2012, which would be its fourth-highest year -- in the mix with the heady mid-2000s and in striking distance of Honda's U.S. record of 1.55 million vehicles in 2007.
Toyota expects to sell 1.9 million vehicles in the United States in 2012, up 16 percent from 2011. Toyota's target falls more than half a million units short of its pre-meltdown U.S. sales of 2.62 million vehicles in 2007.