Updated: Toyota announced today that it was lowering its global vehicle sales outlook for the year to 9.5 million vehicles, down from the 9.85 million units predicted at the start of the year. The lower figure is still higher than the 9.37 million vehicles Toyota sold last year and represents a growth rate of just 1%.

The key reason for the downgrade was a poor U.S. economy, record oil prices and rising material costs. Toyota’s sales figures for the U.S. is now pegged at 2.44 million vehicles - down from 2.64 million units predicted earlier - and this represents a 5% decline on 2007 levels where the carmaker sold more than 2.82 million vehicles.

Original: No carmaker has been immune from the poor state of the global economy and rising fuel prices, with even industry juggernaut Toyota expected to lower its global sales target in the wake of a U.S. slump. According to latest reports Toyota plans to reduce its global sales forecast to 9.5 million vehicles, down from 9.85 million vehicles predicted at the start of the year.

The downward revision was mainly due to a slump in sales of SUV and pickup trucks in the U.S. caused by rising fuel prices and greater environmental awareness from consumers, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun. These same reasons have also hampered sales in Europe and Japan, however, the U.S. remains the worst effected market.

A Toyota spokesman said the company was now reviewing its target but was not in a position to unveil details. The new forecast is expected to be revealed at the end of the month.

Speaking at a shareholder meeting last month, Toyota executive vice president Tokuichi Uranishi conceded that beating 2007’s 2.62 million sales figures for the U.S. would be difficult to achieve. To compensate for the declining sales, Toyota also announced last month that it would production at its plants in Texas, Indiana and Alabama.