It is a real pleasure for me to be here with you this evening, on the eve of what promises to be an exciting Geneva Motor Show for us all.
You have just heard from Dr. Saito about some of the products and technologies that you will see tomorrow on the Toyota and Lexus stands. In addition, I invite you to join us tomorrow morning for the European première of the all new Lexus RX300, and the opportunity to also have a look at our renewed Yaris range. Our new Avensis, designed and manufactured in Europe, will also be on display. What all of this represents is solid evidence of our commitment to the European market, and to environmental leadership in the automotive industry.
Let me say that 2002 was another terrific year for Toyota in Europe, despite a sluggish market, down by 3%. Our sales rose 13.5% to over 755,000 units, for the sixth record year in a row, and our market share climbed from 3.7% in 2001, to 4.4% in 2002.
Sales of our new Toyota Corolla more than doubled to over 200,000 units, while our best-selling model, the Toyota Yaris, achieved all-time record sales of around 213,000 units. Meanwhile, the Toyota RAV4 is the best selling SUV in Europe, with almost 96,000 units sold in 2002.
Our dedication to producing cars to the highest quality standards has also been recognized by our customers, as indicated by surveys such as J.D. Power in the UK and in Germany.
We have also invested significantly in order to support our European growth. In addition to our plants in the UK and in France, production is increasing at our plant in Turkey; production of transmissions and engines has begun at TMMP in Poland; we are building a new engine factory in Poland, and a new factory in the Czech Republic with PSA Peugeot Citroën, where we will be producing 300,000 cars from 2005. Almost 400,000 Toyota cars were manufactured in Europe in 2002. In total, we have invested close to Euro 4.5 billion to date, and we employ directly and indirectly more than 56,000 people.
By 2004, we will be in a position to produce annually over 500,000 vehicles in Europe, 830,000 engines and 550,000 transmissions. This increasing localization in Europe is consistent with our policy around the world; we believe it is the only way truly to understand and respond to customer needs and expectations.
The bottom line is that in the financial year ending in March 2002, Toyota's operating losses in Europe were cut by half. For the first three quarters of the current fiscal year, we had a European operating profit of Yen 5.6 billion, or roughly Euro 41.5 million at 130 Yen to the Euro, and we hope to maintain this momentum. These results have been made possible by continued cost reduction, greater efficiency, increased local production and higher sales.
In 2003, despite the many uncertainties hanging over the market, we aim to sell 790,000 vehicles - a 4% increase over our 2002 results. We have announced a goal of 800,000 units in annual sales by 2005, and if present trends continue, we may achieve this target earlier than expected.
The key drivers for the increase in our sales will be our three core models, the new Toyota Avensis, Yaris and Corolla. With the new Avensis our core European line-up is complete. All three models have been designed and are manufactured in Europe; they are competing in the three main segments of the European market - B, C, and D - representing approximately 55% of total market volume. Thanks to these three models, our broad line-up in the fast-growing MPV and SUV segments, increasing localisation of production, better market coverage and growing brand awareness and value, I think it is fair to say that we are becoming a well-established major player in the European market.
The news you heard from Dr. Saito that the new Avensis would be exported from our U.K. factory to Japan this fall is very encouraging to us. This is a car that was designed and developed for Europe, and it is a huge vote of confidence that it may become competitive in the very demanding Japanese market, where quality is at such a premium. Superior quality is indeed behind every aspect of the new Avensis, and the early positive reactions we have seen in Europe are very promising.
We also expect the launch of the new Lexus RX300 this year in Europe to have a strong impact on the segment. When we first introduced it in 1998, it was the first of its kind, a vehicle that offered the commanding high ride and off-road functionality of an SUV, in combination with the comfortable ride, handling and convenience of a luxury sedan. With the new generation, we hope to redefine the category again, by further changing what customers should expect in the luxury SUV market.- And within two years, as Dr. Saito said, this model will be available with the revolutionary hybrid synergy drive powertrain - a development that is sure to have a big impact on the SUV segment.
Toyota will continue to strive to offer its European customers the finest purchasing and ownership experience possible. We will also continue further to improve our products, our technology and our environmental performance. In other words, we want to make our core value of "kaizen," or "continuous improvement," a tangible reality that we can deliver each and every day.
I thank you for your attention, and hope you have a delightful meal!