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2013-01-29 09:57

TOP POSITION: Toyota has surpassed GM in its 2012 sales figures, making it the most prolific automaker in the world.

  Video

While the conventional petrol versions of the 2013 Toyota Auris were launched - appreciatively, in most cases - to the SA media in Jan 2013 there's also a hybrid petrol/electric version to come. VIDEO

TOKYO, Japan —Toyota is now officially, once again, the world's most prolific automaker.

The Detroit News reported that Toyota released its tally for global vehicle sales for 2012 on January 28, 2013, at a record 9.748-million - a bigger number than the estimate it gave in December 2012 of about 9.7-million.

NATURAL DISASTER

It was already clear Toyota had dethroned General Motors as the Detroit-based automaker fell short, selling 9.29-million vehicles. GM had been the top-selling automaker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008.

GM retook the sales crown in 2011, when Toyota's production was hurt by a quake and tsunami in north-eastern Japan.

The latest results show Toyota's powerful comeback.

Global vehicle sales for the maker of the Camry sedan, Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models surged nearly 23% from 2011. Overseas sales jumped 19%, while sales in Japan, where the economy has been troubled, recovered by a whopping 35%.

VW, the world's No.3 automaker, sold 9.1-million vehicles around the world but all three automakers played down the significance of the sales ranking and said they were focused on making attractive products.

Toyota's Yamada said:  "Rather than going after numbers, we hope to make fine products, one by one, to keep our customers satisfied. The numbers are just a result of our policy. And our policy will continue unchanged.”

Still, the recovery for Toyota is impressive, the DetNews says. Like other Japanese automakers, Toyota's production was devastated by the March 2011 disasterswhich disrupted supplies of crucial components. Flooding in Thailand, where Toyota has factories, also hurt car production.

REPUTATION AT STAKE

Before that, it struggled against a crisis of widespread recalls in the US over defective floor mats, accelerators and brakes involving millions of vehicles, some recalled over and over, which hurt its reputation for quality.

According to the DetNews, Toyota has vowed to scrutinise quality and has held back product development to minimise recalls.

From the middle of last year (2012), it was hit by another kind of problem - a widespread boycott of Japanese products, including Toyota cars, in China over a territorial dispute but sales growth in other parts of the world, including the US and Asian nations such as Indonesia and India, was more than enough to offset such losses.

Toyota is planning to sell 9.91-million vehicles globally in 2013, putting it back on track toward its earlier goal of 10-million - a target that it had made a special effort to play down after its recall crisis.

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