TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp overtook Volkswagen Group in vehicle sales last year, regaining pole position as the world’s top-selling automaker for the first time in five years as the pandemic sales slump hit its German rival harder.
Toyota said on Thursday its group-wide global sales fell 11.3% to 9.528 million vehicles in 2020. That compared with a 15.2 percent drop at Volkswagen to 9.305 million vehicles.
Automakers have suffered as coronavirus lockdowns have stopped people from visiting car showrooms and forced manufacturing plants to reduce or halt production.
Toyota, however, has weathered the pandemic better in part because its home market Japan, and the Asian region in general, have been less affected by the outbreak than Europe and the United States.
“Our focus is not on what our ranking may be, but on serving our customers,” a Toyota spokeswoman said.
As demand for cars rebounds, particularly in China, Toyota, Volkswagen and other manufacturers are scrambling to tap growing demand for electric cars. Toyota said that the ratio of electrified (mostly hybrid) vehicles it sold last year grew to 23% of total sales from 20% in 2019.