Toyota regains the top spot for global car sales

Marion Dakers
JAPANESE firm Toyota has retaken its crown as the world’s biggest selling car maker after its sales rose 22.6 per cent to a record 9.75m vehicles in 2012.

Japan’s three biggest car companies all posted record sales yesterday, as they continue to recover from natural disasters that left the country reeling in 2011.

Toyota, which lost the top spot in the wake of the Japanese tsunami and a vehicle recall in the US, has overtaken General Motors and Volkswagen during the last year.

GM sold 9.28m vehicles in 2012, up 2.9 per cent, while Volkswagen sold 9.07m vehicles, up 11.2 per cent.

Sales in Toyota’s recovering home market jumped 35.2 per cent in the year to 2.4m cars, trucks and buses, while overseas sales rose 19 per cent to 7.34m.

Exports rose for the first time in two years, with Toyota picking out the Americas, the Middle East and Africa as highlights.

The firm aims to sell 9.91m vehicles globally in 2013, up 1.6 per cent from 2012. Toyota also sells minicars under the Daihatsu marque and Hino-branded trucks.

Toyota raised its profit forecast for the financial year to 780bn yen in November, in spite of a Chinese boycott following a dispute over islands in the East China Sea.

The protests also hit rival car maker Nissan, though worldwide the firm sold a record 4.94m vehicles in 2012, up nearly six per cent, it said yesterday.

And Honda posted a 19 per cent rise in sales to 3.82m vehicles, on the back of growing turnover in the US, its biggest market.

Smaller firm Mazda yesterday revealed a two per cent rise in annual global production to 1.19m units, helped by a 23 per cent rise in North American exports to more than 323,000 cars.

Mitsubishi more than doubled its production to 1.1m units during 2012.

Honda will kick off earnings season for Japan’s car makers when it reports first quarter results on Thursday, followed by Toyota and Nissan next week.