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Toyota Tops in 2014, Still World's No. 1 Automaker

Jan. 21, 2015
Toyota held the top spot despite millions of recalls because of faulty airbags made by Takata.

TOKYO - Toyota kept its title as the world's biggest automaker on Wednesday as it announced record sales of 10.23 million vehicles last year, outpacing General Motors and Volkswagen, but a shaky outlook for 2015 could see it lose the crown to its German rival.

The worldwide annual sales figure beat Volkswagen, which logged sales of 10.14 million vehicles, and U.S.-based GM, which said it sold 9.92 million cars last year.

But Toyota also said sales would decline this year to an expected 10.15 million vehicles, as demand falls off in its home market.

That will likely mean Volkswagen will be in pole position this year as the German automaker rides momentum in emerging economies that could see it take the lead in global auto sales for the first time.

"Their focus is not No. 1," Peggy Furusaka, an auto-credit analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, told Bloomberg News, referring to the Japanese firm.

"Toyota is more concerned about keeping profitability than chasing numbers. So for coming years, I wouldn't be surprised to see Toyota selling fewer cars than VW."

The company received more than 1,500 orders for its "Mirai" sedan since its launch in mid-December. It had planned to sell 400 in Japan over 12 months.

It has also announced plans to develop components for hybrid vehicles with two Chinese automakers in an unprecedented technology-sharing deal aimed at increasing green car sales in the world's biggest vehicle market.

The deal marked a shift away from Japanese carmakers' traditional reluctance over such deals for fear of losing their competitive edge.

Previously, Toyota would make key components such as batteries and motors in high-cost Japan and then ship them to joint ventures overseas. But that drove up the price of models such as its Prius, which has seen sluggish sales in China.

Toyota shares slipped 0.93 percent to close at 7,588.0 yen in Tokyo, as the broader market fell into negative territory.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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