It came as no surprise to anyone in 2003 when Toyota overtook Ford as the world's No. 2 automaker. And despite Toyota's good will gesture of raising prices to protect U.S. automakers, it was no secret the Japanese company was gunning for the No. 1 position. Now it's, well, somewhat official. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a leaked copy of Toyota's confidential "global master plan" outlines that company's goal of taking 15% of the world car market by 2010. That would be a 4% boost over its 2005 share. An Associated Press story in the L.A. Times goes into detail about the plans, but we'll run over the highlights here.

Toyota's plan predicts affiliates Daihatsu and Hino Motors should contribute 1% to it's expanded market share, the other 14% coming from Toyota products. The automaker expects major growth in Russia, China, India and Brazil to be a big part of its global dominance, as well. A newly developed inexpensive minicar is expected to boost sales in these countries. It's Russia plant should begin production in late 2007, with an Indian plant up and running by 2009. According to Japanese media reports, Toyota also wants its overseas plants to boost output to 5 million cars by 2008, a 40% rise over 2005 levels of 3.5 million vehicles.

The gauntlet has been cast folks, and it appears at this point that no automaker, not even General Motors, is willing to pick it up and take the challenge of stopping Toyota.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal via The Associated Press via The Los Angeles Times]