DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp., rebounding from lost production from last year’s natural disasters in Asia, sold the most cars and trucks worldwide for the year’s first half, extending its lead over General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG.
Toyota global sales rose to 4.97 million during the first half, Javier Moreno, an automaker spokesman in New York, said in a telephone interview. GM sold 4.67 million vehicles during first six months, Jim Cain, a company spokesman, said in an e- mail. VW, based in Wolfsburg, Germany, sold 4.45 million vehicles in 2012’s first half, according to a company statement July 13.
The results pave the way for Toyota, led by President Akio Toyoda, to reclaim the lead in annual global auto sales from GM a year after the tsunami in Japan and floods in Thailand roiled production. The recovery in production helped Toyota’s sales rebound in the U.S. and Japan, its two biggest markets, while GM and Volkswagen struggled with a shrinking European market.
“It shows it’s a competitive world out there,” Rebecca Lindland, an industry analyst with IHS Automotive, said today in an e-mail. “Halfway through with a 300,000 unit or 7 percent difference in volume it means the two are running a tight race.”
Toyota’s lead expanded from 210,000 vehicles over GM and about 330,000 over VW after the first quarter. GM’s first-half sales represented a 2.9 percent increase from 4.54 million during the same period a year earlier, according to GM’s Web site.
Toyota, GM and VW are locked in a battle for global supremacy and the bragging rights and scale that come with being the biggest automaker.
"I’m sure GM would love to be No. 1, but they would rather be profitable so they are not going to get into a market-share race at the expense of their balance sheets," Lindland said.
Toyota overtook GM to become the world’s largest automaker by sales in 2008 as the U.S. market collapsed and GM headed toward bankruptcy reorganization in 2009. GM regained the sales lead last year as Toyota’s output was limited following the natural disasters in Asia.
"It’s difficult to compare this year to last year because last year was such a special circumstance," Dave Sullivan, product analyst at AutoPacific Inc. in suburban Detroit said in an interview.
Seventy percent of GM’s U.S. nameplates will be redesigned or new in 2012 and 2013, Cain said.
"We are in the early days of the most aggressive roll out of new products in our history, which will help us press our advantage in the U.S. and China and grow profitably around the world," Cain said in the e-mail.
Toyota’s sales include Hino and Daihatsu models.