Toyota wins back top carmaker sales crown from GM

Japanese carmaker returns to No 1 after recovering from disasters and recalls

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 January, 2013, 2:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 5:30am

Toyota Motor outsold General Motors and Volkswagen last year, regaining the global sales lead after recovering from natural disasters and record recalls that tarnished its reputation for quality.

The Japanese carmaker said worldwide sales, including deliveries from subsidiaries Hino Motors and Daihatsu Motor, rose 23 per cent to a record 9.75 million units, beating the 9.29 million units sold by GM and the 9.07 million by Volkswagen.

Toyota is counting on US demand to help achieve its projection of 9.91 million in sales this year, helped by a weakening yen that makes it more competitive against South Korea's Hyundai Motor.

A recovery in China may also help counter an estimated decline in demand in Japan after government incentives expired in September last year.

Satoshi Yuzaki, the general manager at Takagi Securities, said: "Toyota has fully recovered from the earthquake and natural disasters a year earlier. Japanese carmakers, including Toyota, will continue to benefit from an extremely strong US market."

Toyota ended GM's 77-year reign as the world's largest carmaker in 2008, holding on to the top annual sales spot until 2011, when it lost the title to GM after production was disrupted by disasters in Japan and Thailand.

When Akio Toyoda became president in June 2009 of the carmaker that his grandfather founded 72 years earlier, the company was reeling from its biggest annual loss and downgrades from Moody's and Standard & Poor's highest credit ratings. The global recession triggered a 35 per cent contraction in car demand in the US, Toyota's largest overseas market.

Deliveries rebounded last year as the recession receded and the firm added new products.

Toyoda has sought to widen its appeal beyond its best-selling Camry sedan and the Prius hybrid by making its cars more fun to drive.

This year, it will introduce a revamped Corolla, its second-most popular car in the US last year, to compete against Volkswagen's Golf and Honda Motor's Civic compact.

Toyota would also work with BMW, the world's biggest maker of luxury vehicles, to produce a medium-sized sports car and set up partnerships to create fuel-cell systems, lightweight materials and lithium-air batteries, the companies said last week.