Toyota, the world’s top carmaker since 2008, is set to lose its crown to US rival General Motors after supply-chain disruptions from the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan and flooding in Thailand hit production around the world.
With estimated sales this year of 7.90 million vehicles for the group, which includes units Daihatsu Motor and Hino Motors, Toyota will likely rank third behind General Motors and German group Volkswagen.
Toyota could regain the top spot next year as it builds inventory to meet pent-up demand and adds output capacity in Brazil and China.
“The reason they lost sales this year was because they could not build the cars. Now that they can, it is possible they will take back the top spot,” said Satoru Takada, analyst at Tokyo-based TIW.
“It depends on which markets the growth will come from,” he said, noting while Toyota was dominant in southeast Asia and the Middle East, it had more competition in China and South America.
Moody’s separately said it may cut Toyota’s ratings because of the likelihood that the recovery in Toyota’s profitability will be more protracted than anticipated due to the company’s significant exposure to the strong yen.
Toyota’s parent-only plan for 2012 compared with its previous peak of 8.43 million vehicles in 2007.
“I believe the target is achievable given Toyota is quickly recovering production and launching new models,” said Lee Hyun-soo, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities in Seoul. “There will be cut-throat competition between Toyota, GM and Volkswagen for the top spot in the global market next year.”
VW is also eyeing the top global ranking, with a sales goal of 10 million vehicles in 2018. The group logged 7.51 million deliveries for the first 11 months of this year, after a 15% gain in November. “Our target to top an annual 8 million units for the first time is within reach,” sales chief Christian Klingler said on December 16.