Toyota Motor Corp. regained the distinction of the world's top automaker during the first half of the year, surpassing General Motors as continued to shake off the effects of a devastating tsunami and earthquake that rocked Japan in March, 2011. Making matters worse, at least from GM's perspective, Germany's Volkwagen AG is nipping at its heels, and is on pace to move into second behind Toyota. Toyota has rebounded nicely from the catastrophic tsunami, and predicted in February, less than a year after being crippled by the disaster, that it would sell 9.58 million vehicles this year, surpassing its record-high total of 9.37 million set in 2007.
Volkswagen, meanwhile, is not even close to being content with No. 2, having stated as a goal for itself the ambition to be No. 1 by 2018. Toyota had held the crown from 2008 to 2010 before losing it to GM after last year's tsunami forced it to shut down plants and crippled its supply chain. In the first six months of 2012, Toyota sold 4.97 million vehicles, some 300,000 more than GM's second-place total of 4.67 million. VW fell short of third by just 30,000 cars sold, totaling 4.64 million from January to June.
Toyota said it sold 4.97 million vehicles worldwide in the first six months, a substantial increase from the 3.72 million it sold last year, when all Japanese automakers were reeling from the earthquake's aftermath. The principle reason GM is losing ground is an anemic sales growth pace of just 3 percent from last year's second quarter, well below VW's 12.4 percent uptick in sales and Toyota's stout 25 percent gain.