Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's largest automaker, topped the country's sales rankings last month with the Corolla sedan and station wagon after it revamped the model.
Toyota sold 13,010 Corollas domestically in October, up 14.7 percent from the same month in 2005, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said in a release today. Toyota's Vitz compact car took second place, and its Estima minivan was third.
The world's second-biggest automaker is adding new models to meet its goal of increasing its market share in Japan to 45 percent from 40 percent at present. The carmaker will later today probably report that second-quarter profit rose 15 percent to a record on domestic and U.S. demand.
``Toyota's strategy at home has been working very well, even though the passenger car market is falling,'' said Ashvin Chotai, a London-based automotive analyst for Global Insight Inc. ``We can expect more new models from Toyota in Japan, one of its most important markets, in the coming months.''
Toyota will probably report record second-quarter profit, aided by a weaker yen and rising demand for its fuel-efficient Corolla and RAV4 vehicles.
Net income probably rose to 350 billion yen ($3 billion) for the three months ended Sept. 30, according to the median estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Sales probably rose 13 percent to 5.62 trillion yen in the quarter. The automaker will report second-quarter and first-half results at 3 p.m. Japan time today.
The carmaker, based in central Japan's Toyota City, had seven of the 10 best-selling domestic models last month. Nissan Motor Co., Japan's second-largest carmaker, took one spot. Honda Motor Co. had two places.
Japan's vehicle sales excluding minicars have fallen for the past 16 months. Higher gasoline prices have prompted consumers to pick compact cars and minicars to take advantage of cheaper tax rates and better fuel economy.
Toyota introduced the Corolla in 1966 and redesigned the model for the first time in six years last month. The model accounts for a fifth of Toyota's global vehicle sales. The company expects to sell 12,000 Corollas a month in Japan, the automaker said on Oct. 10. It costs between 1.4 million yen ($12,000) and 2.3 million yen.
The automaker expects vehicle sales for Toyota Group, including Hino Motors Ltd. and Daihatsu Motor Co., to reach 9.8 million units in 2008 after it renewed its two best-selling cars this year. In additions to the Corolla, the company introduced the redesigned Camry sedan in January.
Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe, 64, is also boosting sales in North America, the company's most profitable market, as consumers prefer its fuel-efficient cars over General Motors Corp.'s and Ford Motor Co.'s light trucks. Toyota will open a plant in Texas next month and another in Canada in 2008, while GM and Ford cut jobs and close factories as they lose sales. Toyota expects sales of 3 million units in North America in 2008, 2.4 million in Japan, 1.3 million in Europe and 1.7 million in Asia excluding Japan.
In the U.S., GM and Ford have struggled to stave off a loss of market share to Toyota, Honda and other Asian automakers as drivers opt for smaller and more fuel-efficient cars, such as Toyota's Prius gasoline-electric hybrid car, to cut gasoline costs.
Shares of Toyota rose as much as 1.1 percent to 7,110 yen in Tokyo and were at 7,090 yen at the 11:00 a.m. trading break.
Toyota offers the Corolla in two versions in Japan compared with four previously. The company on Oct. 23 began selling the Auris to replace its Corolla Runx and Allex hatchbacks at home.
Toyota's Lexus LS sedan and Honda's Stream minivan are among new designs released in the past four months. Toyota took 28th place with the LS. It won about 12,000 orders between Sept. 19 and Oct. 18, the company said on Oct. 19. Honda's Stream grabbed fourth slot.
Japan's auto deals group's ranking excludes minicars and imports. Mini vehicles are powered with no larger than 0.66- liter engines.
The table below shows Japan's automobile sales in October by model, maker and vehicle type, with percentage changes from a year earlier.
=============================================================== No. Model Maker Total Type %Change Sept. Rank =============================================================== 1. Corolla* Toyota 13,010 Compact 14.7% (2) 2. Vitz Toyota 9,923 Compact 2.9% (3) 3. Estima Toyota 7,259 Minivan 207.8% (7) 4. Stream Honda 6,993 Minivan 1148.8% (4) 5. Fit Honda 6,723 Compact -25.7% (1) 6. Crown Toyota 5,580 Sedan -21.8% (17) 7. Prius Toyota 5,465 Hybrid Sedan 79.1% (22) 8. Serena Nissan 5,247 Minivan -24.9% (5) 9. Wish Toyota 5,167 Minivan -34.4% (10) 10. Ractis Toyota 4,978 Compact -49.5% (14) ============================================================== *Note: The Corolla also includes hatchback and station wagon versions.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kae Inoue in Tokyo at