Crushed by last year’s devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Toyota Motor Co. lost the global automotive sales crown to not only General Motors but was also passed by German rival Volkswagen AG. But if the Japanese maker’s pace during the first half of 2012 is any indication it may very well be back as king-of-the-hill this year.
Toyota sold 4.97 million vehicles worldwide between January 1 and June 30th, a commanding 300,000-unit lead over GM, according to newly released numbers. Barring another setback for Toyota, industry analysts suggest it will be difficult for the U.S. rival – or VW, for that matter – to catch up by year-end.
Toyota’s rebound reflects a number of factors including, most notably, its recovery from last year’s Japanese natural disaster which forced most of that country’s makers to shutter key plants for a month or more due to component shortages and then only slowly restart production in Japan and at their overseas plants.