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Toyota eyes 6 percent rise

TOKYO, Jan 26 – Japan\’s Toyota Motor said Tuesday it aims to increase global sales by six percent this year, as the world\’s largest-selling automaker looks to defend its top spot from Germany\’s Volkswagen.

Toyota is looking to boost world sales to 8.27 million vehicles this year, six percent up from the previous year which saw a 13 percent drop.

In Japan alone, it targets a seven percent rise in sales to 2.13 million units in calendar year 2010, a Toyota statement said.

The automaker announced its sales target a day after it said its worldwide vehicle sales fell to 7.81 million units in 2009, narrowing its lead over Volkswagen which enjoyed a record year.

Volkswagen, Europe\’s biggest carmaker, aims to overtake Toyota by 2018 as the global number one.

Earlier this month VW reported 2009 sales of 6.29 million vehicles, up 1.1 percent from the previous year. Last month it said it would buy 19.9 percent of Japan\’s Suzuki for more than 2.5 billion dollars, boosting its global clout.

Toyota is expected to publish its third-quarter earnings results on February 4. It returned to the black during the previous fiscal quarter for the first time in a year after its business was battered by the global financial crisis.

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