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Toyota Retains Ichiban Title in 2009

Despite a 13% sales drop, Japanese maker easily beats VW.

by on Jan.25, 2010

The Japanese auto giant, though mired in the Great Recession, stays on top.

Toyota Motor Corporation remains the world’s largest automaker, according to sales data released today in Tokyo. Vehicle sales for Toyota and its affiliated brands, including Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino, totaled 7.81 million vehicles worldwide for calendar year 2009, compared with 8.97 million vehicles a year earlier.

Overall, sales declined by 13% compared to 2008, particularly in the United States and Japan, Toyota’s two biggest markets. Sales increased in China, which passed the U.S. as the world’s largest auto market last year.

Even with the decrease in sales, Toyota handily beat Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest maker, which set a record for sales at 6.29 million vehicles globally worldwide, a slight increase from 2008. VW executives leave no doubt that they intend to surpass Toyota as the leader eventually.

Toyota surpassed General Motors as the world’s largest automaker in 2008, ending GM’s 77-year record on top of the global sales charts.

GM is expected to remain number two when final global numbers are available.

In the U.S., GM continues to lead Toyota whose sales dropped 20% to 1.8 million units, while GM, off 30%, came in at 2.1 million units.