Toyota expects to return to its pre-pandemic profit and sales levels this year as the world’s largest carmaker emerges almost unscathed from the supply chain disruptions that have crimped global vehicle production.
The Japanese group also unveiled an $11bn budget to develop autonomous and carbon neutral technologies after its quarterly net profit surged 137 per cent year on year on the back of a recovery in sales across all of its main markets.
For the fiscal year ending in March 2022, Toyota projected net profit would rise 2.4 per cent to ¥2.3tn ($21bn), in line with market expectations, and revenue to grow 10 per cent to ¥30tn. The carmaker also unveiled a ¥250bn share buyback programme.
The group, which includes Toyota’s Daihatsu and Hino subsidiaries, expects to sell 10.5m vehicles this fiscal year, compared with 9.9m units last year, with a particularly strong sales rebound in the US and Europe.
Of the 10.5m figure, Toyota expects to sell 2.7m gasoline-electric hybrids, 20,000 battery-powered electric vehicles and 10,000 fuel cell vehicles.
Last month, the maker of the Prius hybrid announced plans to launch 15 electric vehicles by 2025 in a bid to meet stricter global regulations on carbon emissions.
“We have to remember that the goal is not electric vehicles but the goal is carbon neutrality,” James Kuffner, chief executive of Toyota’s Woven Planet mobility subsidiary, said at an online news conference on Wednesday. “But make no mistake. Toyota is really excited and I believe we are strongly positioned to lead the world in the best reliable, low-cost battery electric vehicles.”
The robust results for the January to March quarter came even as the global car industry wrestled with supply chain disruptions caused by a semiconductor crunch. The shortages have been worsened by outages at facilities in Texas because of snowstorms and a fire at a plant owned by Japanese chipmaker Renesas.
Analysts said Toyota, which is the biggest Renesas client, has managed to limit production cuts thanks to its large chip inventory of up to four months’ supply and other supply chain management skills honed during past natural disasters. The company has also implemented stringent cost-cutting measures that have allowed it to increase profits despite a decline in vehicle sales.
Rival Nissan warned on Tuesday that it expected a third consecutive year of losses as it anticipated a production drop of 500,000 vehicles between April and September because of the semiconductor shortage.
“The situation remains highly unpredictable,” Kenta Kon, Toyota’s chief financial officer, said. “But the fact that we have not been significantly affected is a result of steady efforts we have been making.”
Shares in Toyota rose 2.2 per cent on Wednesday afternoon after it released its results.