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 2 percent from the previous year.
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 also 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 being surpassed by Toyota 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 totaled nearly 2.24 million vehicles, up 7 percent from the previous year. Its China sales were also strong, surging 9 percent to 917,000.
Toyota remained optimistic about prospects this year for both regions, expecting sales to grow 3 percent in the U.S. to 2.3 million vehicles, while adding 20 percent in China sales to 1.1 million.
The company was typically low-key about the bragging rights for being No. 1, reiterating its comments from previous years that it was merely making one car at a time to appeal to global consumers.
GM has also expressed similar sentiments, but being the top seller is a key morale booster for the employees and related companies. The healthy results at the three rivals reflect the momentum of growth in the auto industry.
Toyota has undergone tough times in recent years, such as a massive recall fiasco 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.