Having already reduced its global sales target for this year, Toyota is trimming figures once again and pushing back its goal to become the first carmaker in the world to break the 10 million annual vehicle sales barrier. The carmaker has announced that it expects to sell about 9.7 million vehicles next year including its Daihatsu and Hino Motors units, representing close to a 7% drop from previous forecasts. It had previously forecast sales of 10.4 million vehicles, while analysts predicted at least 9.8 million sales.

Toyota officials have cited America’s credit crunch, rising oil prices and rising material costs as the main reasons for the slump. For North America, Toyota’s biggest market, the company has lowered its forecast for next year from 3 million vehicles to 2.7 million.

"We are looking at the current shift towards fuel-efficient cars (in the U.S.) as a structural change in demand," Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe stated at a news conference today, reports Automotive News. "We intend to respond quickly and flexibly to this environment."

Despite the declines in sales for established markets, Toyota is now looking at emerging markets such as China, India, Russia and Brazil to fuel its future growth. The carmaker also plans to start building more small cars and hybrids in North America to capitalize on growing demand for such vehicles.