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Toyota Keeps Global Auto Sales Leader Title in Q1

April 25, 2014

Toyota Motor Corp. is still the leader in global auto sales for the first quarter of 2014. The Japanese auto giant sold 2.58 million vehicles worldwide through March, maintaining its lead against rivals Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co.

Toyota and its group of companies, including bus and truck manufacturer Hino Motors Ltd. and minicar maker Daihatsu Motor Co., saw a 6.3 percent increase in their global sales from January to March compared with the same period last year. Strong sales were attributed to high demand in Japan and improving sales in Europe and China.

According to Toyota, global group sales reached 10 million vehicles at the end of the financial year in March. This marks a first for the automaker. Total global sales during that period was 10.13 million units, a 4.5 percent jump year-on-year.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda considered the past quarter as a good end to what is deemed as the most lucrative fiscal year for the auto company. 2013 proved to be a great year for Toyoda, as the company he led was not affected by troubles it had faced in the past. These include natural disasters, strong yen and massive recalls. Toyota expects record earnings of 1.9 trillion yen ($18.5 billion), mostly due to a weaker yen.

The Toyota group aims to sell 10.32 million vehicles in 2014. However, sales are foreseen to slow in Japan because of the sales tax increase that occurred this month.

Volkswagen had been vocal about its goal to challenge Toyota’s reign in the world market. “There is a good chance that we will already exceed the 10 million deliveries mark this year,” said Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn.

Toyota has been the global auto sales leader from 2008 to 2010, and again in 2012. The first quarter of 2014 is the third straight quarter that the Japanese carmaker dominated. In 2011, it landed in third place behind GM and Volkswagen, affected by natural disasters in Thailand and its home country. Analysts are convinced that Toyota will remain the best-selling carmaker in the industry in the next few years.

It is not yet determined which automaker is in second place, as both GM and Volkswagen claimed that their sales are about 2.4 million. Volkswagen has also not yet posted the sales figures for its MAN and Scania heavy trucks.

Toyota may be the global sales leader, but its U.S. subsidiary trailed behind GM and Ford Motor Co. in U.S. sales. GM was the best-selling automaker in its home market for the quarter, selling 649,637 vehicles. Nonetheless, Q1 sales for GM dropped 2 percent compared with the same period in 2013. The Q1 sales of Ford also dipped 3 percent, but the Blue Oval managed to secure the second spot with 580,260 units sold.

Volkswagen Group of America found itself in eighth place with 133,514 vehicles sold, a decline of 7 percent.

GM managed to make $125 million in the first three months of the year thanks to high transaction prices on its trucks. The automaker may have avoided a major loss, but its net income suggested that the recall did take a toll on its first quarter revenue. Its Q1 earnings dropped 86 percent from the previous year and its lowest profit since the six-month period after it emerged from bankruptcy reorganization in 2009.

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