By Hans Greimel, Crain News Service
TOKYO (Jan. 22, 2015) — Toyota Motor Corp. defended its crown as the world's biggest auto maker in 2014, selling 10.2 million vehicles to keep a slim lead over German rival Volkswagen Group.
But the Japanese giant also forecast sales to slump 1 percent to 10.15 million in the current calendar year, on the back of slowing demand in Japan and emerging markets.
It would be the first time sales have fallen since 2011, when Japanese auto makers were broadsided by the killer Japanese earthquake and tsunami that derailed production and sales.
Another retreat could open the door for VW to steal the lead in 2015.
Toyota sales, including deliveries from its Daihatsu minicar subsidiary and Hino truck-making affiliate, climbed 3 percent to 10.2 million vehicles in calendar year 2014, the company said today in a release. Volume exceeded 10 million units for the first time at Toyota.
The total edged the 10.1 million vehicles sold by VW, which also crossed the 10 million-unit mark for the first time in 2014. General Motors Co., the biggest U.S. auto maker, finished third in last year's sales race, with global volume rising 2 percent to 9.92 million vehicles.
Both Toyota and VW had forecast sales to exceed 10 million in 2014.