The four-year reign of Toyota Motors as top global car seller was finally ended by Volkswagen in 2016. Worldwide sales of Toyota slowed down as its sales in the U.S. decreased and its sales performance in China did not increase as projected.
According to Auto News, the total number of cars sold by Toyota Motors including those of Hino, Lexus, and Daihatsu reached 10.2 million, an increase of only 0.2 percent compared to the previous year. On the other hand, the Volkswagen group sold 10.3 million cars representing an increase of 3.8% over the 2015 sales figures.
Toyota's 2016 sales decreased due to the slowdown in the U.S. car market and its inability to reach projected sales targets in the growing China car market. Both China and U.S. are Toyota's biggest foreign markets.
In the meantime, Volkswagen gained much from its car sales in China because of beneficial tax cuts that boosted consumer demand for the company's brand. The situation might be a little different in 2017.
Much will depend on how Toyota responds to car trade situation between Japan and the U.S. with President Donald Trump bent on pressuring foreign companies to build more cars and other vehicles in the U.S. On the other hand, Volkswagen anticipates the end of its tax advantages in China that will possible affect consumer demand.
In the next five years, Toyota has plans to invest $10 billion in the United States, responding to Trump's clamor to create more jobs in the country. Toyota's plan to build a car plant in Mexico has led to the criticism of President Trump regarding gigantic boatloads of Japanese cars flooding the U.S. market.
If the U.S. car market improves this year, there's a good chance that Toyota can regain the honor of being the world's top seller of cars. Improving its market share in the huge China car market will also be a great boost to its overall sales performance.