TOKYO: Toyota Motor's global sales are likely to fall short of target this year, the result of  a significant slump in major markets, a senior company executive warned last week.

Said evp Tokuichi Uranishi: "Frankly speaking, sales in the US, Europe and Japan are showing signs of slowdown. It will be difficult to meet the group's sales target of 9.85 million, although emerging markets such as China and Russia are active."

The fragility of the US economy has made it a particularly difficult market for all Japanese automakers, as has the rising strength of the yen against the dollar.

Sagging consumer confidence has led most automakers and analysts to revise their full-year forecasts for the US auto market to the mid-15 million range.

Moreover, automotive consultancy JD Power underlined the gloominess in the industry when it revised its 2008 forecast to 14.95m vehicles, the lowest level since 1995.

Toyota is turning its attention toward South Korea in the hope of beefing-up sales with plans to enter the non-luxury market.

Until now it has only sold its Lexus marque, but will launch the Prius hybrid car, the Camry sedan and the RAV4 SUV in a bid to attract more South Korean motorists onto its dealers' lots.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff