Japanese car giant Toyota has recorded the highest annual net profit figure in its history, but it’s expecting profits to fall as it increases spending on future technology.

    Toyota CEO Koji Sato this week announced the carmaker’s results for the 2024 Japanese fiscal year (April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024), posting profits of 5.35 trillion yen – equivalent to A$52.3 billion, and a 49 per cent year-on-year increase.

    According to Reuters, it’s the first time any Japanese company has exceeded full-year profits of 5 trillion yen ($49 billion).

    Throughout the financial year, Toyota produced 9.97 million vehicles (up 9.2 per cent) across its namesake and Lexus brands, while recording 10.3 million sales (up 7.3 per cent).

    However, Reuters reports Toyota has warned it could see its profits fall by as much as 20 per cent this financial year, largely due to investments in electrification and artificial intelligence (AI).

    According to Automotive News Europe, Toyota said it will spend 1.7 trillion yen ($16.6 billion) on “growth technologies” across the next 12 months, representing a 42 per cent increase on its current investment in electrification and AI.

    It comes as Toyota reported 3.7 million hybrid vehicles sold last financial year (up 32 per cent), accounting for more than one third of its total sales.

    The carmaker expects hybrid sales to grow by another 25 per cent this year, which would bring the annual tally to 4.65 million sold.

    Electric vehicles (EVs) by comparison contributed just 116,654 sales to the total, due in part to Toyota’s delayed rollout of battery-only cars.

    Globally, Toyota’s EV offerings are currently limited to the bZ4X electric SUV (and its Lexus RZ450e twin-under-the-skin), the Lexus UX300e, the Chinese-market Toyota bZ3 sedan, and electric versions of the Japanese ProAce van family, though a wider range of bZ EVs are coming.

    Toyota’s impressive financial year results were announced just days after its Australian sales results for the first four months of the year were published in VFACTS.

    The brand has sold 77,009 vehicles in Australia so far throughout 2024, a 45 per cent increase on the same period last year.

    It went on to sell 215,240 vehicles in 2023, just 9.9 per cent shy of its record 238,983 sales in 2008.

    Toyota hasn’t been without hiccups of late though, having faced multiple scandals impacting three of its four brands in Japan.

    In December 2023, Toyota’s small car specialist brand Daihatsu suspended manufacturing in Japan following the discovery that it falsified safety data and used unauthorised safety testing procedures, dating back to 1989.

    In January, the Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announced it had discovered “irregularities” during engine certification testing of three turbo-diesel engines produced by its subsidiary Toyota Industries Corporation (TICO).

    The carmaker said the three affected engines were found to have been fitted with engine control units (ECU) for testing which differed from those in mass production, resulting in an investigation by Japanese authorities to determine whether the engines were compliant – and if the brand had deliberately cheated.

    Though shipments of vehicles powered by the three engines – which includes the Australian-delivered HiLux, LandCruiser 300 Series, LandCruiser 70 Series, Fortuner, HiAce and Granvia and Lexus LX – were paused, the carmaker was later cleared of misconduct by Japanese officials.

    MORE: Everything Toyota

    Jordan Mulach

    Born and raised in Canberra, Jordan has worked as a full-time automotive journalist since 2021, being one of the most-published automotive news writers in Australia before joining CarExpert in 2024.

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