Toyota has retained its position at the top in global vehicle sales after the first quarter of 2015. The Japanese carmaker sold 2.52 million vehicles across the world, outpacing rivals Volkswagen and General Motors even as weakness in its home country slowed down its growth.
Toyota has been the world’ bestselling carmaker for the past three years, beating second-seeded Volkswagen that sold 2.49 million vehicles for the January-March period. Third place went to General Motors Co., with global sales figure of 2.4 million vehicles as reported earlier this week.
The interesting thing is that Toyota’s global vehicle sales, according to the number released Thursday, were actually down 2 percent from last year, thanks to the market downturn in Japan. Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s sales were up 1.8 percent year-on-year, while GM’s were up 1.9 percent.
Although all three carmakers emphasize that the real competition is about coming out with good products, not beating rivals, there’s no denying that the race among them is intense, playing out worldwide, including relatively new markets such as China and our very own country.
Toyota has had its ups and downs, such as a recall fiasco that began in 2009, as well as the 2011 tsunami and quake disaster in northeastern Japan that hobbled its parts-supply chain and factory production. Its President, Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder, put ambitions for aggressive growth on hold for some years after the recall scandal, which resulted in millions of vehicles being recalled, mostly in the U.S., for an array of defects. But he recently said Toyota is ready to start growing again, although cautiously and gradually, focusing on shared parts across a variety of models that will allow the automaker to cut costs while honing in on quality control.
GM is also embroiled in a defect problem of its own since last year, over problem ignition switches. The Detroit-based automaker was the top-selling automaker for more than seven decades until it was surpassed by Toyota in 2008.
Nipping at their heels is German leviathan Volkswagen that has come from behind with fantastic speed in recent years, including key markets such as China where potential for growth remains great.
In 2014, Toyota became the first automaker in the industry’s history to sell more than 10 million vehicles around the world in a year.