updated 1/27/2010 7:55:59 AM ET 2010-01-27T12:55:59

Toyota said Tuesday it plans to sell 8.27 million vehicles worldwide this year, up 6 percent from 2009, showing the world's No. 1 automaker is optimistic about recovery after being battered by the global slowdown.

Toyota Motor Corp. — which makes the Prius hybrid, Lexus luxury model and Camry sedan — sold 7.81 million vehicles worldwide in 2009, down 13 percent from the previous year. The number includes group companies Daihatsu Motor Co., which makes small models, and truckmaker Hino Motors.

Toyota had appeared almost unstoppable until the financial crisis of late 2008 struck, sending auto demand in the U.S. and other parts of the world crashing.

It sold 8.972 million vehicles globally in 2008, and expectations were high it would top 10 million in coming years.

In 2010, sales in Japan are expected to grow 7 percent to 2.13 million vehicles, while overseas sales were expected to grow 6 percent to 6.14 million, according to Toyota.

Toyota's president normally holds an annual news conferences to announce the sales targets. But the announcement this year came in a release.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the company's founder, who took office last year, has been playing down growth ambitions, making comments that stress the crisis the company faces and its need to return to basics to make appealing cars.

The automaker has also suffered a huge blow to its image in announcing two massive recalls within the space of two months in the U.S. to fix accelerator pedals that get stuck.

Recalls
Last week, Toyota said it was recalling 2.3 million vehicles in the U.S. In November, it had recalled 4.2 million vehicles due to gas pedals that could become trapped under floor mats, causing sudden acceleration. That problem was the cause of several crashes, including some fatalities.

Some vehicles were involved in both recalls.

In recent years, Toyota had been aggressive in moving into small trucks and other larger vehicles that deliver bigger profits in the North American market, rather than sticking to the small cars on which Japanese automakers had built their reputation.

Rival Honda Motor Co. chose to stick to small models, avoiding the big losses Toyota has suffered in the last two fiscal years.

Like other Japanese automakers, Toyota has been shifting its focus to China and other Asian markets for growth opportunities as auto sales in the U.S. and Japan have largely stagnated despite some signs of recovery.

Toyota expects to sell more than 800,000 vehicles in China this year, up 13 percent from last year, and 62,000 vehicles in India, up 12 percent. It is also expecting sales to recover in North America at 2.19 million vehicles, up 11 percent.

Toyota, without Daihatsu and Hino, is targeting worldwide sales of 7.4 million vehicles, up 6 percent from 2009, with Japan sales up 9 percent at 1.5 million.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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