updated 12/5/2006 8:07:22 PM ET 2006-12-06T01:07:22

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to produce more cars overseas than in Japan for the first time ever in 2007, according to a Japanese newspaper report Wednesday.

The Japanese car giant plans to expand overseas car production to around 4.4 million vehicles, up from 4 million in 2006, while its domestic production is expected to increase to 4.2 million vehicles in 2007 compared with 4.11 million this year, the Asahi newspaper said, without citing sources.

Toyota’s global output in 2007 is likely to top that of General Motors Corp., and the company aims to accelerate the localization of production to head off possible trade friction, the report said.

Toyota spokeswoman Shiori Hashimoto said the report could not be confirmed immediately but the company plans to announce its production plans for 2007 later this month.

Toyota already surpassed Ford Motor Co. as the world’s No. 2 automaker in annual global vehicle sales in 2003, and analysts say it is on track to surpass GM in the coming years. Just last month, Toyota announced plans to boost global sales to 9.8 million vehicles in 2008. GM sold 9.2 million vehicles worldwide in 2005, the second-largest volume in that company’s history.

Japanese media have reported Toyota plans to raise overseas output by 40 percent of its 2005 level to 5 million units by 2008.

Toyota is increasing production in various regions, including a plant in San Antonio that began production in November. It has also outlined plans to boost production at existing plants in Canada, Thailand and Mexico.

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