GENEVA -- Nissan wants to outsell Toyota in Europe, a top executive from the Japanese carmaker said.
"Today I declare Nissan's intention to be the top-selling Japanese brand in Europe," Simon Thomas, Nissan's senior vice president for sales and marketing, said at the Geneva auto show on Tuesday.
Nissan officials on Wednesday expanded on the comment, saying that the company aims to achieve its goal by its 2013 fiscal year that ends March 31, 2014. Toyota surpassed Nissan as Europe's top Japanese brand in 1998 and has kept the lead.
Toyota beat Nissan 582,457 sales to 402,654 in Europe last year, according to statistics from industry association ACEA. Toyota reported that it sold 750,746 cars in Europe, including Turkey and Russia, last year while Nissan says its volume in the larger area was 547,000 unit sales.
Thomas is confident about rising past its rival to No. 1 because Nissan has added 600 sales points in the last two years and plans to increase that number by another 400 within the next three years. The Japanese automaker has also launched 10 new or refreshed products since March 2010.
Thomas said Nissan already is the top Japanese brand in Russia and the UK and it also leads Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. in China, he added.
Toyota was hit hard by a global safety recall that was largely responsible for its 16.5 percent decline in European sales last year. Toyota is looking to rebound from the these problems. The world's largest automaker expects the addition of at least 10 new hybrid models to help drive a rise in European sales to 1 million vehicles by 2013 or 2014, Toyota Motor Europe President Didier Leroy said.
Toyota's European sales peaked at 1.2 million vehicles in 2007, before the financial crisis hit.