Toyota grab record sales as Japan races away

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Toyota overtook US rival General Motors to regain its crown as the world’s biggest car-maker last year, as Japanese car companies roared back.

The Japanese firm reported global sales of 9.75 million vehicles for 2012 – a record for the manufacturer and slightly ahead of the estimate it gave last month.

GM had been the top-selling car-maker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008. The Detroit-based giant

re-took the sales crown in 2011, when Toyota’s production was hit by the earthquake and tsunami in north-eastern Japan.

The latest results show Toyota’s powerful comeback. Global vehicle sales for the maker of the Camry, the Prius and Lexus luxury models surged nearly 23 per cent from the previous year.

Overseas sales jumped 19 per cent, while sales in Japan, where the economy has been troubled, recovered a whopping 35 per cent.

Volkswagen, the world’s number three car-maker, sold a record 9.1 million vehicles around the world in 2012, while GM sold 9.3 million.

Like other Japanese car-makers, Toyota’s production was devastated by the March 2011 tsunami, which disrupted supplies of crucial components. Flooding in Thailand, where Toyota has factories, also hit production.

Before that, it struggled against a crisis of massive recalls in the US over defective floor mats, accelerator pedals and brakes, involving millions of vehicles and denting its reputation for quality.

The firm is planning to sell 9.9 million vehicles this year.