TOKYO -- Toyota remained the top-selling automaker for a second year in a row, beating U.S. rival General Motors by some 270,000 vehicles in 2013, and set an ambitious target to sell more than 10 million vehicles this year.
That would mark a milestone, as no automaker has ever topped annual worldwide sales of 10 million.
Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday it sold a record 9.98 million vehicles worldwide last year, up two per cent from 2012.
The Japanese automaker has made an impressive comeback from an earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan in 2011, damaging auto suppliers and hobbling production.
Toyota outlined plans to sell 10.32 million vehicles and produce 10.43 million vehicles in 2014.
General Motors Co. sold 9.71 million cars and trucks worldwide last year, outselling Volkswagen AG of Germany at 9.5 million.
Toyota recaptured the global sales crown in 2012 from GM, which had been the top-selling carmaker for more than seven decades until Toyota surpassed it in 2008.
Toyota, which makes the Camry sedan, Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models, had strong sales growth last year in overseas markets, although sales fell in long-stagnant Japan.
Toyota's U.S. sales totalled nearly 2.24 million vehicles, up seven per cent from the previous year. Its China sales were also strong, surging nine per cent to 917,000.
Toyota remained optimistic about prospects this year for both regions, expecting sales to grow three per cent in the U.S. to 2.3 million vehicles while adding 20 per cent in China sales for 1.1 million units.
The company was typically low-key about bragging rights for being No. 1, reiterating its comments from previous years that it was simply making one car at a time to appeal to global consumers.
GM has expressed similar sentiments, but being the top seller is a key morale booster for employees and related companies. The healthy results at the rivals reflect the momentum of growth in the auto industry.
Toyota has undergone tough times in recent years, such as a massive recall in the U.S. involving more than 14 million vehicles for sticky gas pedals, faulty floor mats, problematic brakes and many other defects spanning several years from 2009.
-- The Associated Press