Toyota keeps world No. 1 title with record vehicle sales
TOYOTA sold a record 9.98 million vehicles last year, it said yesterday, outpacing rivals General Motors (GM) and Volkswagen to maintain its title of world's biggest carmaker.
The Japanese car giant's highest annual sales volume came thanks to a weaker yen, as well as strong United States and China sales, signalling it had recovered from a series of damaging safety recalls and Japan's 2011 quake-tsunami disaster.
The figures beat US-based GM, which said it sold 9.71 million cars last year, while Germany's Volkswagen logged annual sales of 9.5 million.
Toyota broke GM's decades-long reign as the world's top carmaker in 2008, but lost the crown three years later as the quake-tsunami hammered production and disrupted the supply chains of Japanese carmakers.
However, in 2012, it once again overtook its Detroit rival, which sells the Chevrolet and luxury Cadillac brands. GM's strong results come after it emerged from bankruptcy and a government bailout during the 2008 global economic crisis.
Toyota, maker of the Camry sedan and Prius hybrid, also said it expects this year to become the first carmaker to break the 10-million vehicle-sales barrier.
That growth would be driven by overseas demand - Toyota expects volume at home to slip 5 per cent this year as consumer demand takes a hit from an April sales-tax hike.
SMBC Nikko Securities car analyst Shotaro Noguchi said: "Toyota should have reached the 10-million mark sooner if it had not faced major negative factors, like the impact of the quake disaster and flooding in Thailand."