Toyota Motor is likely to miss its goal of selling over 1.1 million vehicles in China this year, owing to a faster-than-anticipated economic slowdown and resulting price war in the world's biggest auto market.
The world's largest automaker and its two Chinese joint ventures will miss the 2014 target, but will sell a little more than a million vehicles in 2015, two unnamed Toyota executives told Reuters.
The Japanese auto giant is scheduled to release full-year figures on 6 January, 2015. Researcher IHS Automotive pegged sales at 1.09 million for 2014 and 1.15 million for 2015.
Toyota has had to revise sales plans gradually since the third quarter, the executives said, in the wake of the China slowdown: 2014's growth remains on track to miss Beijing's 7.5% target and mark the weakest expansion in 24 years.
Projected 2014 sales for the automaker's luxury brand Lexus, for instance, have been revised to roughly 75,000 cars from an original goal of 85,000, they added.
In addition, competition from top German brands such as BMW have also hit sales, according to one Toyota executive.
Dealers of German brands have tried to meet planned growth goals by heavily discounting cars at the lower end of product line-ups, making prices comparable to non-premium cars from Toyota and rivals Nissan Motor and Honda Motor.
For instance, the entry-level variant of BMW's 3-Series sedan costs about 283,000 yuan ($45,543 / £29,322 / €37,477) while the most expensive version of Toyota's Camry mid-sized sedan costs 275,000 yuan.
Pursued by the new agency, a BMW spokesman refused to comment.
The Toyota executives said: "Toyota can resort to a fire sale and meet our sales targets, but our philosophy is to produce and sell as many as a market wants, not much more.
"We try to stay away from price wars as much as we can."
"When the BMW 3-Series is given a 10% or more discount, it really squeezes sales of the Camry and similarly priced cars in our line-up."