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Toyota takes top spot as 2020’s biggest car maker

By Tim Robson, 29 Jan 2021 Car News

Toyota beats VW worldwide 2020

VW deposed as Japanese giant claims top sales status despite 2020’s pain

The figures are in, and Toyota has overtaken Volkswagen for the title of world number one.

The Japanese giant sold around 9.53 million cars and light commercials around the world in 2020, with the Volkswagen Group (including its various subsidiaries like Audi) notching up 9.31 million sales.

coronavirus hits car industry

Impressive numbers in a year where the planet virtually stopped, sure, but the numbers represented an 11 per cent fall for Toyota and a drop of more than 15 per cent for VW.

For VW, the figures coincided with a massive 24 per cent drop in the overall sales of all passenger vehicles in Europe, its strongest market.

MORE Huge downturn as coronavirus takes hold of car industry

Toyota, meanwhile, took the most pain in its biggest market, the US, where sales from all brands dropped 15 per cent in 2020.

Toyota RAV4 2019

“Naturally the number of units sold was lower than in the previous year because of the spread of coronavirus,” Toyota spokesperson Chisato Yoshifuji told Bloomberg. 

“But because Toyota and its partners were able to thoroughly implement measures to combat the spread of the virus, we were able to continue our corporate activities and keep yearly declines at the level they were.”

It’s a turn of fortunes for VW, who outsold Toyota every year from 2015 to 2019 on a global scale.

Not surprisingly, Toyota again ended the year as Australia’s best-selling vehicle manufacturer for the 18th year in a row.

Toyota Australia President and CEO Matthew Callachor

It even managed to increase its market share from 19.4 per cent in 2019 to 22.3 per cent on the back of record hybrid sales.

Toyota sold 204,801 vehicles in 2020, just 965 less than its 2019 total and, for the first time, it finished a calendar year with best-sellers in a number of categories, in the form of the HiLux, top-selling SUV (RAV4) and passenger vehicle (Corolla).