'At the moment Toyota is not very active in the fleet market, with the exception of Great Britain,' he said. 'But we think it's a very important source of sales for the future because it's a growing market, so we will be much more active in future. In the last three months we have installed a central fleet department to make sure we expand in this sector of the market.'
This growth will build on Toyota's burgeoning success in Europe where it has become the number one Japanese manufacturer by sales volumes. In 1998 Toyota was the market leader in Ireland, Finland, Iceland and Greece, where its market shares ranged from 12.6% to 16.2%, and was one of the top five best-selling manufacturers in Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark, The Japanese giant also posted record 1998 performances in the UK, where it increased sales by 14% year-on-year to 90,600, France up 34% to 31,500, Italy up 45% to 34,300, and Spain up 33% to 16,600. These figures contributed to total Western European sales of 541,000, 15% up on 1997, and putting Toyota well on course to achieve its Challenge 2000 goal of selling 800,000 units by 2005.