NBCNEWS.COM - Toyota has officially reclaimed its global sales crown, the maker confirming it produced 9.75 million vehicles in 2012.
was slightly ahead of a preliminary tally Toyota forecast as the year
came to a close and locks it in first place ahead of General Motors,
which sold 9.29 million vehicles. Volkswagen, at 9.1 million, came in
third for 2012.
Toyota's sales were slightly lower than the
company had projected earlier in the year, the shortfall reflecting the
ongoing dispute between Japan and China over a chain of small,
uninhabited islands both nations claim.
In customary fashion,
Toyota officials downplayed the sales results. "Rather than going after
numbers, we hope to make fine products, one by one, to keep out
customers satisfied. The numbers are just a result of our policy. And
our policy will continue unchanged," Toyota spokeswoman Shino Yamada
told the Associated Press.
Nonetheless, it marked a significant
comeback for the Japanese giant which first captured the global sales
crown in 2008, displacing GM after seven decades as the sales leader.
The U.S. maker plunged into bankruptcy the following year, recovering
only with the assistance of a massive government loan.
production back to normal, Toyota saw its sales in the home Japanese
market surge 35% in 2012 while overseas sales jumped 23%. Adding
additional models to the "family," the Prius line firmed up its
position as the world's best-selling hybrid nameplate.Toyota
briefly fell to third in the global chase in 2011, the maker suffering
significant production cuts in the wake of Japan's March earthquake and
tsunami. It didn't fully restore its worldwide production network to
normal operations until the end of the year.
But not everything
went as well as expected – notably in China where Toyota was just one
of many Japanese businesses to suffer as the dispute over the Senkuko
Islands – which the Chinese call the Daioyu – flared up. A Toyota
dealership was torched and mobs destroyed many of the maker's products.
Sales fell by roughly half in the early weeks of the dispute though
they have begun to recover more recently.
oyota did have some other issues, notably a surge of safety-related
problems including additional recalls related to the maker's unintended
acceleration issue. In all, Toyota recalled more vehicles than any
other maker in the American market in 2012, and it ended the year by
agreeing to an estimated $1.2 billion settlement related to the
unintended acceleration issue. Even so, most analysts say the maker's
reputation escaped with relatively little damage.
forecasting another increase in sales for 2013, hoping to reach a
record 9.91 million. That is still short of an earlier projection of at
least 10 million, however.
General Motors officials have not yet
set out their own forecast and that could depend on the strength of the
ongoing U.S. recovery. Earlier this month, Chairman and CEO Dan
Akerson said the maker expected sales in the States to reach somewhere
between 15.0 million and 15.5 million for 2013.
The wild card is Volkswagen, the aggressive German maker laying out
plans to snatch the sales ground by the time it wraps up its current,
10-year growth plan in 2016. The weakness of the home European market
could delay that strategy, though VW hopes to offset that by stressing
China, Latin America and the recovering U.S. market where it was one of
the fastest-growing brands in 2012.
Tuesday, June 18 2013 7:25 PM EDT2013-06-18 23:25:07 GMT
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