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Toyota unseats Volkswagen to become the world’s top-selling automaker

Toyota Motor Corp. overtook Volkswagen AG in 2020 to become the world’s top-selling automaker, the first time the Japanese group has clinched the position in 5 years.

Toyota’s group gross sales, which embrace these of its subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd., for the year had been 9.53 million items, the company mentioned Thursday. That compares with VW’s 9.31 million, introduced earlier this month.

The victory for Toyota got here regardless of a painful year for automakers. Although demand for automobiles recovered marginally towards the finish of 2020, industry-wide manufacturing facility and showroom shutdowns in the spring had been sufficient to drag gross sales down 14% from 2019, in accordance to an estimate from IHS Markit.

(Also learn | Toyota launches hybrid model of 7-seater Highlander SUV in Europe)

It was additionally a topsy-turvy year through which the gravity of automakers’ losses was largely decided by their stage of publicity to the areas most disrupted by the virus.

VW has a robust footprint in the European Union, the place passenger automotive gross sales fell an “unprecedented” 24% to fewer than 10 million units in 2020, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. The German carmaker’s sales fell 15%, its worst performance in close to a decade.

VW Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess initiated a strategic shift after he took over the top job in 2018 to focus on lifting profitability rather than chasing sales growth. VW’s return on sales has been lagging behind Toyota for years and the market slump triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic a year ago exposed the German manufacturer’s relatively high costs.

(Also read | Budget 2021: Toyota wants laws, policy support for electric vehicles simplified)

Toyota, on the other hand, has a bigger presence in the U.S., where total car sales in the nation fell 15% in 2020. The Japanese automaker’s global sales were down 11%. Although the U.S. has the most Covid deaths and cases, there haven’t been the same lockdowns as in Europe.

“Naturally the number of units sold was lower than in the previous year because of the spread of coronavirus,” Toyota spokeswoman Chisato Yoshifuji mentioned Thursday. “But as a result of Toyota and its companions had been in a position to completely implement measures to fight the unfold of the virus, we had been in a position to proceed our company actions and preserve yearly declines at the stage they had been,” she said.

Prior to 2020, VW outsold Toyota in every year since 2015. But the two companies’ results last year may be indicative of a longer-term trend, according to analysts.

(Also read | Toyota resumes some production lines in China after temporary suspension)

While VW is expected to temporarily surpass Toyota again in 2021, Toyota is projected to pull ahead each year through 2025, IHS Markit said. VW’s push to produce more electrified vehicles should lead to a sales spike this year, but prolonged lockdowns and shop closures in its domestic market will continue to have an adverse impact, analyst Yoshiaki Kawano said.

Kawano said Toyota will continue to enjoy strong sales in its core markets of Japan and the U.S. In China, the world’s largest car market, it should “put up a good fight” by pushing out extra EVs and SUVs in step with native demand, he mentioned.

Although quite a lot of components akin to the continued unfold of the virus and a worldwide chip scarcity will persist in 2021, IHS Markit estimates auto gross sales will recuperate steadily to 84.4 million items from 76.8 million in 2020. Global automotive gross sales are anticipated to contact 94.8 million in 2025.

This story has been printed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content.

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