TOKYO: The fall from grace of SUVs and other gas-guzzling vehicles in the US has forced Japanese automaking giant Toyota to revise down its projected global sales for 2009.

The company now expects to shift 9.7 million vehicles next year, rather than the originally projected 10.4m.

Projected North America sales have been cut by 300,000 units, while those in Europe, Japan and the rest of Asia have been trimmed by 150,000.

Price cuts to stimulate demand have been made more difficult as automakers face increased raw material costs.

As a result, Toyota has raised the prices of commercial trucks, vans and hybrid models in its domestic market – the first such hike in 16 years.

In addition, it is responding to the increasing clamour for fuel-efficient vehicles by speeding up the launch of a 'plug-in' petrol-electric hybrid. It hopes to make this available to fleet buyers by the end of 2009.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff