According to manufacturers' figures, Toyota Motor (IW 1000/5) regained its position as the world's number one automaker in the first quarter of 2012, stealing back the lead General Motors. Toyota, which includes the brands, Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino, sold 2.49 million vehicles in the three months to March 31, ahead of General Motors with 2.28 million and Volkswagen with 2.16 million.
Toyota spokeswoman Dion Corbert said the carmaker had faced major hurdles in recent years, which resulted in it giving up its lead to GM in 2010.
"We had the financial crisis, some quality issues, the (March 11) earthquake and Thai floods in 2011, during which we were not able to produce as many cars as we wanted to," she said.
Toyota had been the world's biggest automaker from 2008 and sold 8.42 million vehicles in 2010. But it was overtaken after slipping to 7.35 million vehicles in the year to March, behind both General Motors, with about 9.0 million unit sales and Volkswagen with more than 8.0 million vehicles sold.
Toyota has been forced into damage control in recent years after recalling millions of vehicles since 2009 over safety defects. Since then it has been hit hard by a strong yen, the March 11 quake and tsunami in northeastern Japan and flooding in Thailand that affected factories there and caused huge production problems.