Toyota fends off VW to stay biggest carmaker a third year
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.