TOYOTA Motor Corporation outsold General Motors (GM) and Volkswagen (VW) last year‚ regaining the global sales lead after recovering from natural disasters and record vehicle recalls that tarnished its reputation for quality.
Worldwide sales at Toyota‚ including deliveries from its subsidiaries Hino Motors and Daihatsu Motor‚ rose 23% to a record 9.75-million units last year‚ the Toyota City‚ Japan- based car maker said. That compares with the 9.29-million units sold by GM and 9.07-million sold by VW.
The maker of the Camry sedan is counting on US demand to help achieve its projection for 9.91-million annual sales this year.
A recovery in China may also help counter an expected decline in Japanese demand after government incentives expired in September.
"Toyota has fully recovered from the earthquake and natural disasters [that occurred] a year earlier‚" Takagi Securities GM Satoshi Yuzaki said.
"Japanese car makers‚ including Toyota‚ will continue to benefit from an extremely strong US market."
In 2008‚ Toyota ended GM's 77-year reign as the world's largest vehicle maker.
But in June 2009, when Akio Toyoda became president of the car maker his grandfather founded in 1937‚ the company was reeling from its biggest annual loss and downgrades from Moody's and Standard & Poor's ratings services.
The global recession triggered a 35% contraction in demand for vehicles in the US‚ Toyota's largest overseas market. Deliveries rebounded last year as the economy picked up and the Japanese vehicle maker added new products and was spared from disruptions from natural disasters.
Toyota has sought to widen the Japanese vehicle maker's appeal beyond its best-selling Camry sedan and Prius hybrid by making its cars more fun to drive.
The vehicle maker introduced the rear-wheel-drive 86 coupe – featuring a front design that evokes a "predator about to pounce" – in 2011 and pegged the price to attract young buyers.
This year‚ it will introduce a revamped Corolla‚ its second-most popular car in the US last year‚ to compete with VW's Golf and Honda Motor's Civic compact. Toyota will also work with BMW to produce a midsize sports car and set up partnerships to create fuel-cell systems‚ lightweight materials and lithium-air batteries‚ the two said last week. –Bloomberg