More stories related to Geneva Motor ShowGENEVA – Toyota Motor Corp. predicts its European sales will rise 7% to 980,000 units in 2005, up from the record 915,966 vehicles the Japan-based auto maker delivered in 2004.

If Toyota beats its results from 2004, it would be its ninth consecutive year of record sales in Europe.

The Yaris, Avensis, RAV4, Corolla Verso and Prius models are top contributors to the growth. But the auto maker hardly is satisfied with its European lineup or its sales totals.

Toyota’s long-term annual sales goal in Europe is 1.2 million units, says Thierry Dombreval, executive vice president and chief operating officer-Toyota Motor Marketing Europe.

“Without a doubt, the 18 new products over the next 24 months will add further momentum to our growth,” says Dombreval.

The new models will be joined by an updated brand symbol for Toyota vehicles and dealers.

In June, Toyota will begin focusing its new Aygo minicar launch in 10 European cities, rather than throughout specific countries. The rollout will hit the rest of Europe later in the year.

Equipped with a 1L 3-cyl. DOHC gas engine and multi-mode manual transmission, the Aygo is aimed at young consumers in urban centers.

“They are the ‘e-generation’ or ‘Generation Europe,’ young singles in their 20s, living in an urban environment,” says Andrea Formica, Toyota Motor Europe vice president-sales and marketing. Formica expects 80%-90% of Aygo customers to be new to the Toyota brand.

The front-wheel-drive Aygo will be the smallest vehicle offered by Toyota in Europe with an overall length of 134 ins. (340.5 cm). For comparison, that is more than 30 ins. (70 cm.) shorter than the Chevrolet Aveo subcompact General Motors Corp. sells in the U.S.

Aygo will be built at the auto maker’s joint venture assembly plant with PSA Peugeot Citreon in Kolin, Czech Republic. One-third of the factory’s 300,000-unit annual capacity is allocated for Toyota.

Aygo will fully utilize that allotment, a Toyota Motor Europe spokesman tells Ward’s.

Beginning in April, Toyota will begin a 3-year program to introduce a new three dimensional, silver metallic interpretation of the auto maker’s three interlinked symbol, which was created in 1989. The new signage will be placed on vehicles and 3,000 dealerships. Completion will coincide with Toyota’s 70th anniversary in 2007.

bcorbett@primediabusiness.com