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Toyota gunning for number one again

Big seller: Toyota’s all-new Corolla should help boost sales for the car-maker as it bids to reclaim top spot globally.

Sales and profit up globally as Toyota looks to return to world number one

6 Nov 2012

UPDATED: 9/11/2012TOYOTA is on track to reclaim its title as the world’s number-one car-maker, with the latest sales figures putting it 446,000 units ahead of American rival General Motors for the first nine months of 2012.

The Japanese car-maker is hoping to claw its way back to the top spot after a disastrous 2011 that saw massive production losses due to the devastating natural disasters in Japan and Thailand.

In the nine months to September 30, 2012, Toyota Motor Corporation sold a total of 7.4 million vehicles globally, including Lexus, Daihatsu, Hino and Scion as well as Toyota-badged vehicles.

Toyota has a comfortable lead over GM, which sold 6,954,000 vehicles globally in the same period – more than 100,000 units ahead of last year.

European giant Volkswagen Group trails its Japanese and American counterparts with 6,200,000 sales in the first nine months of this year.

The VW Group experienced growth across each of its key markets for the first three quarters of 2012, and has increased its global market share to 12.6 per cent, up from 12.3 per cent in the same period last year.

128 center imageFrom top: Toyota's executive vice president Satoshi Ozawa Volkswagen Group's CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch.

Volkswagen’s net profit also improved by 47.7 per cent to €20.2 billion ($A24.7 billion), but operating return on sales was down from the previous year due to the purchase price of the MAN commercial vehicle brand and sportscar manufacturer Porsche.

Volkswagen Group chief financial officer Hans Dieter Poetsch said that was happy with the results, despite the difficult economic climate.

“We have always said that the second half of the year would be more difficult, so our performance is in line with expectations,” he said. “Our relative strength compared with the competition shows that we are on the right path.”

After achieving record sales and beating Toyota to be the third-best-selling auto-maker last year, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is currently in fourth place for the year with sales of 5,627,704 units.

Holding on to fifth place so far is the Hyundai Motor Company, with combined Kia and Hyundai global sales of 5,218,303 from January to September.

Hyundai’s sales of just under 3.2 million are up 7.9 per cent over last year, while fast-growing Kia’s sales have increased by 11.3 per cent to slightly over two million units.

The Korean car giant remains ahead of the Ford Motor Company after overtaking it in global sales last year. The Detroit-based car-maker has recorded sales of 4,134,000 units for the first nine months of the year.

The Fiat Group has reported that worldwide shipments for its mass-market brands, including those from the Chrysler Group, are at 3.1 million units year to date, following more than a million in the third quarter (up 11 per cent on a year ago).

The resurgent Chrysler Group alone has accounted for 1,661,000 global sales so far this year.

Toyota revealed plans earlier this year to double profits and return to the number-one spot after falling to number four last year behind GM, Volkswagen and Renault-Nissan.

Financial results for the first half of the Japanese fiscal year (April 1 to October 31) show that Toyota’s global sales are up almost 1.4 million units, with revenues up 36 per cent and net income rising to $US6.9 billion ($A6.6 billion).

Given these results, the Japanese car-maker has revised its original forecast for the fiscal year to March 31, 2013.

Although it has lowered its sales projection by 50,000 units to 8.75 million due to uncertainty in China and Europe, Toyota now expects operating income to be ¥50 billion higher at ¥1.050 trillion ($A12.5 billion) due to “expected progress in its profit improvement activities”.

These activities include changes to product development, including creating global architectures to be shared across regions as well as giving chief engineers more power over their product to help remove some bureaucracy.

Toyota Motor Corporation executive vice-president Satoshi Ozawa said that despite some uncertainty, Toyota is confident of reaching its goals.

“Although currency fluctuations have continued to affect our profits, and the effect of current Japan-China relations on our sales is still unclear, we have revised the forecast we announced at the end of the first quarter to reflect the progress we have been making in our profit improvement activities,” he said.

“We intend to continue strengthening such activities and aim to create a profit structure able to withstand changes in the business environment.”

Toyota’s Japanese sales have had a major impact on the global sales growth, with an increase of 395,000 units sold in its home country in the past six months, while sales in the US have increased by 572,000.

The Japanese car-maker expects new product for both the Lexus and Toyota brands will give it a push in the final quarter of the year, with the recently released Corolla (or Auris in some markets) expected to have a significant effect.

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