New investment by Toyota in factories in the US and China saw 2005 profits rise, against the worldwide motor industry trend. Net profits rose 0.8% to 1.17 trillion yen ($11bn; £5.85bn), while sales were 7.3% higher at 18.55 trillion yen. Commentators argue that this is because the company has the right mix of products for the markets that it serves. This is an example of very focused segmentation, targeting and positioning in a number of countries.
In 2003 Toyota knocked its rivals Ford into third spot, to become the World's second largest carmaker with 6.78 million units. The company is still behind rivals General Motors with 8.59 million units in the same period. Its strong industry position is based upon a number of factors including a diversified product range, highly targeted marketing and a commitment to lean manufacturing and quality. The company makes a large range of vehicles for both private customers and commercial organisations, from the small Yaris to large trucks. The company uses marketing techniques to identify and satisfy customer needs. Its brand is a household name. The company also maximizes profit through efficient manufacturing approaches (e.g. Total Quality Management).
Being big has its own problems. The World market for cars is in a condition of over supply and so car manufacturers need to make sure that it is their models that consumers want. Toyota markets most of its products in the US and in Japan. Therefore it is exposed to fluctuating economic and political conditions those markets. Perhaps that is why the company is beginning to shift its attentions to the emerging Chinese market. Movements in exchange rates could see the already narrow margins in the car market being reduced.
The company needs to keep producing cars in order to retain its operational efficiency. Car plants represent a huge investment in expensive fixed costs, as well as the high costs of training and...