Record sales put Toyota back on top

ToyotaToyota has regained its crown as the world's top car-maker.

The Japanese firm said its global vehicle sales for last year were a record 9.748 million vehicles - bigger than the estimate it gave last month of about 9.7 million vehicles.

It was already clear that Toyota had dethroned General Motors as the Detroit-based car giant fell short, selling 9.29 million vehicles.

GM had been the top-selling car-maker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008. It retook the sales crown in 2011, when Toyota's production was hit by the earthquake and tsunami in north-eastern Japan.

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

Volkswagen of Germany, the world's No 3 car-maker, sold a record 9.1 million vehicles around the world.

All three companies play down the significance of the sales ranking and say they are focused on making attractive products.

"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," said Toyota spokeswoman Shino Yamada.

Nevertheless, the recovery for Toyota is impressive. Like other Japanese car-makers, Toyota's production was devastated by the March 2011 disasters, which disrupted supplies of crucial components. Flooding in Thailand, where Toyota has factories, also hit car production.

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

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