Toyota Leads Global Vehicle Sales, But VW, GM Close Behind

Oct 27, 2014 05:00 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

Toyota was the world's top selling automaker during the first nine months of 2014, fending of rivals like Volkswagen and General Motors, after reporting record sales of 7.615 million vehicles, a 3 percent increase from the same time the previous year.

VW confirmed earlier this month that it sold 7.40 million vehicles from Jan.-Sept., barely beating GM in the closely watches auto sales race.

GM reported sales of 7.372 million vehicles sold worldwide earlier this month, according to the Associated Press.

Japanese automaker Toyota was in first place during the first half with sales of almost 5.1 million. It finished first in 2013 with a record 9.98 million sales. Toyota is currently projecting annual sales of 10.2 million vehicles in 2014, which would be a new industry record.

Toyota is doing well this year despite difficulties at home, where a rise in the sales tax has hurt spending overall, especially auto purchases. Some of the signature vehicles that have helped the automaker this year includes the Camry sedan, Lexus luxury and Prius hybrid.

Toyota has down played its spot at the top, saying that the company is focused on delivering good vehicles, one at a time, according to the AP.

Competition for the top spot is intense however. The three companies haven't just been competing in developed locations like the U.S. and Europe, but also in emerging markets like China and the rest of Asia.

VW managed to fend off GM for the second spot during the first half of the year, despite the fact that GM has its best third-quarter global sales since 1980, led by strong sales in China and growth in North America.

GM doesn't give annual sales projects, but VW expects to deliver around 10 million vehicles this year, according to AP.

GM was the top selling automaker for more than seven decades before losing its crown in 2008. GM regained its title in 2011, when Toyota's production was hurt by the tsunami and quake in northeastern Japan.

Toyota's comeback in 2012 continued into 2013. GM is still going strong despite issuing massive recalls this year totaling more than 30 million vehicles so far.

A number of Japanese automakers, like Toyota, are also in the middle of an unfolding global recall problem involving faulty air bags made by Japanese supplier Takata Corp.

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