Toy­ota fends off VW to stay big­gest car­maker a third year

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp warded off Volk­swa­gen AG to re­main the world's top-sell­ing au­tomaker for a third con­sec­u­tive year, driven by record U.S. de­liv­er­ies of its SUVs.

World­wide sales for Toy­ota, in­clud­ing its Hino Mo­tors Ltd. and Dai­hatsu Mo­tor Co. units, climbed 3 per­cent to 10.23 mil­lion ve­hi­cles last year, ac­cord­ing to a company state­ment. Volk­swa­gen last week re­ported a 4.2 per­cent gain to 10.14 mil­lion ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing its two heavy-truck units. Gen­eral Mo­tors Co. fol­lowed with 9.92 mil­lion sales, up 2.1 per­cent.

Surg­ing de­mand for sportu­til­ity ve­hi­cles in­clud­ing the com­pact RAV4 and mid-size High­lander paced Toy­ota's U.S. mar­ket share gain last year, spurring plans to boost lo­cal pro­duc­tion and ex­ports from Ja­pan in 2015. As Volk­swa­gen and GM add fac­to­ries to bol­ster their al­ready-dom­i­nant po­si­tion in China, Pres­i­dent Akio Toy­oda's strat­egy to forgo build­ing new car plants un­til at least next year could re­sult in the first shakeup in auto-sales lead­er­ship since 2011.

"Their fo­cus is not No. 1," Peggy Fu­rusaka, a Tokyo-based auto-credit an­a­lyst at Moody's In­vestors Ser­vice, said by phone. "Toy­ota is more con­cerned about keep­ing prof­itabil­ity than chas­ing num­bers. So for com­ing years, I wouldn't be sur­prised to see Toy­ota sell­ing fewer cars than VW." Toy­ota forecasts a 1 per­cent de­cline in an­nual sales to 10.15 mil­lion ve­hi­cles in 2015, the Toy­ota City, Ja­pan-based car­maker said in a state­ment to­day. Volk­swa­gen and GM haven't an­nounced pro­jec­tions for this year. Toy­ota is pre­dict­ing a de­cline in sales this year be­cause of an ex­pected slump in de­mand in Ja­pan, where the con­sump­tion tax in­crease last year had brought for­ward many pur­chases, spokes­woman Kayo Doi said.

Last year, Toy­ota's sales gained in the U.S., Europe, China and Brazil while de­liv­er­ies in Thai­land and In­done­sia slumped, ac­cord­ing to the company. The au­tomaker's shares fell 1.3 per­cent to 7,556 yen as of 2:17 p.m. in Tokyo trad­ing. The bench­mark Topix in­dex slid 0.9 per­cent.

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