Toyota Takes Crown As World's Largest Automaker In 2012

A successful year allowed Toyota to retake the crown as the world's largest automaker in 2012. Bloomberg reports that Toyota Motor Corp. sold 9.75 million vehicles last year, up 23 percent year-over-year, putting it ahead of Volkswagen Group's 9.07 million and General Motors' 9.29 million sales.

Last year, Volkswagen and GM argued over which of the two automakers was the largest. But Toyota wasn't in contention for that title: its sales fell off significantly after global production was hit by earthquakes and other natural disasters. Returning to full production strength, as well as a rebounding global economy, allowed Toyota to bump its sales 23 percent last year -- and in 2013 year, Toyota hopes to further increase its global sales to 9.91 million.

Another Japanese automaker also saw its sales figures rejuvenated in 2012. Honda global car sales rose 19 percent to 3.82 million last year; like Toyota, Honda struggled in 2011 after its Japanese facilities were affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In fact, last year Honda's global production of 4.11 million represented the most vehicles the automaker had ever built in a single year.

Within the U.S., the ranking of these top global automakers was somewhat different. GM led, followed by Toyota, Honda, and then Volkswagen.

GM sold 2.56 million vehicles here in 2012, up 3.7 percent year-over-year. The next biggest was Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. (including Lexus and Scion), which enjoyed a U.S. sales boost of 26.6 percent to sell 2.08 million vehicles. American Honda (including Acura) saw its U.S. sales rise 24.0 percent to 1.42 million. At the bottom of the list in terms of volume, Volkswagen Group (including Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, and Lamborghini) sales rose 34.2 percent to 596,100 units.

Sources: Bloomberg, GM, Honda, Volkswagen

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