AUTOSHOW-UPDATE 1-Toyota sees about 2 mln unit U.S. sales in '10

Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:51pm EST

* Toyota's US sales could near 2 mln vehicles in 2010

* US car industry sales still seen 'suppressed' in 2010

* Toyota committed to Mississippi plant, timing uncertain

DETROIT, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) expects its U.S. sales to grow in line with the overall industry this year to reach nearly 2 million units, a U.S. executive said on Monday.

Bob Carter, group vice president in charge of the Toyota brand division, told Reuters at the Detroit auto show that the industry was expected to show moderate growth in 2010.

"This is market growth that should put us very close in the vicinity of about 2 million units," Carter said.

Toyota, which ranks No. 2 in U.S. sales behind General Motors Co [GM.UL], sold 1.77 million vehicles in the U.S. market in 2009, down 20 percent from the prior year. U.S. auto sales fell 21 percent overall to about 10.4 million units, a 27-year low.

Separately, Carter said Toyota was committed to completing a vehicle assembly plant in Mississippi, but remained uncertain as to the timetable given the still weak industry sales.

"We are confident in the recovery of the markets, but as I mentioned earlier, 2010's forecast is 11.5 (million U.S. auto industry sales), much better than what we have come through in 2009, but in historic levels it is still a suppressed market."

Carter said Toyota would need to see additional market recovery beyond the 2010 industry sales expectations to restart the construction and production timetable at the plant.

Toyota has planned to build the Prius hybrid at the Mississippi plant, but has said that all of its plans for the plant are under review at this time. (Reporting by Soyoung Kim and David Bailey; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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