Toyota is weary of the image it’s presenting by being so successful, and is now preparing itself for a possible political and consumer backlash caused by its rapid growth in the US. Until now, executives have dismissed predictions that Toyota would surpass General Motors and take the number one automaker spot by the end of the year. But according to an internal report obtained by the Detroit Free Press, Toyota is concerned about possible criticisms because its US sales are increasing while Detroit's automakers are losing sales and closing plants.

"With recent market-share gains and sales continuing to increase, we are becoming the de facto leader of the industry. That brings risks and responsibilities," stated the president of Toyota Engineering & Manufacturing in North America Seiichi Sudo at a recent presentation. “Our competitors are jealous of our success," he added.

Detroit’s big three claim the Japanese-based carmakers are benefiting from the weak yen, making imports to the US cheaper. The US government may intervene in an attempt to make Japan and other countries stop downgrading their currencies to boost exports. Automotive consulting firm, The Harbour-Felax Group, estimated the yen benefit at $1,054 per vehicle in a study it released last fall.

Toyota will also face a backlash from the vacuum it leaves in US communities as GM, Ford, Chrysler and their suppliers cut down its workforce. But it does have one ace up its sleeve. Toyota has built a significant manufacturing base in the US and plans to open several more plants in the near future.