The New York Times. Toyota returns to No.1 in global auto salesWorld Press
Toyota Motor sold a record 9.75 million vehicles last year, according to an official tally released Monday, roaring past General Motors and Volkswagen to reclaim its title as the world’s top automaker in 2012.
General Motors, which held the top spot in 2011, mustered 9.29 million vehicles in global sales last year. The U.S. company had been the top-selling automaker for decades before losing its lead to Toyota in 2008.
Volkswagen sold 9.1 million vehicles last year, a record for the German automaker, which has expanded its presence in emerging markets. VW also outsold Toyota in 2011.
Toyota estimated last month that it sold 9.7 million vehicles for the year, and final figures released Monday were slightly higher.
By confirming its No. 1 title, Toyota cements a strong comeback from several years of tumbles.
A sharp slowdown in exports during the global economic crisis led to the automaker’s biggest loss in decades, while controversy over its handling of recalls greatly tarnished its image for quality and reliability.
In 2011, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as widespread flooding in Thailand later that year, severely disrupted production, weighing on sales in important markets like the United States and pushing Toyota to No. 3 in global sales.
Toyota had a bumper year in 2012, however, as production rebounded and the automaker went on an offensive to win back market share. Toyota sales in the United States surged 27 percent, to 2.08 million vehicles. In Japan, sales rose 35 percent, to 2.41 million units, helped by government incentives for fuel-efficient cars.
Those increases were enough to offset a decline in sales in China, where Japanese businesses have been hurt by consumer boycotts amid a bitter territorial dispute between the two countries. In Europe, sales of Toyota cars rose by 2 percent. Toyota’s sales figures include deliveries from its subsidiaries Hino Motors and Daihatsu Motor.
This year, Toyota aims to improve on its record for this year to sell 9.91 million cars worldwide.