Toyota Motor Corp outsold General Motors Co (GM) and Volkswagen AG (VW) to lead the global auto industry for the second straight year and forecast more than 10 million in sales this year on rising demand in the US and China.
Worldwide vehicle sales, including deliveries from subsidiaries Hino Motors Ltd and Daihatsu Motor Co, rose 2.4 percent to 9.98 million units last year, Toyota said in a statement yesterday.
That compared with the 9.71 million units sold by GM and over 9.7 million units at VW.
Sales will probably rise to 10.32 million units this year, Toyota said.
Toyota chief executive officer Akio Toyoda retained the No. 1 ranking while piling up profits, outearning GM and VW combined in the most recent quarter. Still, he faces resurgent US automakers fielding their best cars in decades and an aggressive Volkswagen that is increasing investments in the US and China.
“The competition is getting more intense,” Detroit-based Stellar Alliance Group LLC managing director Sanjeev Varma said. “VW is number one in China, GM number one in the US, and all three automakers are scaling up investment in product development and on new models.”
Last year marked a turning point for Toyoda, who took over as president after Toyota’s first annual loss in almost six decades. After years of being haunted by global recalls, natural disasters, a soaring yen and Chinese boycotts of Japanese products, Toyoda got what he wished for: a disaster-free year.
He cleared out the remnants of top management inherited when he took the helm in 2009, laid out a more clearly defined corporate structure with a greater focus on emerging markets, and appointed three outside directors to join the board for the first time.
“What Toyoda has been doing is to go back to Toyota’s original philosophy and focus on products and long-term goals,” said Kota Yuzawa, an analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc in Tokyo. “Last year was the first year his efforts began to bear fruits. The product cycle has just started and they can probably continue to roll out good products and give us good numbers.”
While Toyota led GM by about 460,000 units in 2012, the gap has narrowed to about 270,000 units this year.