With a little help from its flailing friends in Detroit, Japanese automotive giant Toyota Motor Corporation is poised to overtake General Motors in 2006 to become world number one automaker.

On Thursday this week, senior Toyota shoguns will convene to mull next year's production plan, a decision on which will be announced December 20.

Insiders point to this year's likely production total of 8.28 million units, including those manufactured by Toyota offshoots Daihatsu and Hino Motors - 12% up on the automaker's 2005 forecast of 7.39m vehicles.

If the same rate of growth is maintained next year, 927m new cars will roll off Toyota group's global production lines.

GM, meantime, is struggling to keep sales ahead of production capacity and industry observers project a 2005 vehicle output of 9.089 million units - a number expected to decline next year as the ailing company axes thousands of jobs and implements the planned closure of three major North American plants.

Data sourced from Asahi Shimbun Online; additional content by WARC staff