Toyota Motor retained its crown as the world’s top-selling automaker for the fourth consecutive year after posting record annual sales of 11.2 million in 2023, though its chairman apologised on Tuesday for scandals at three group companies.
The Japanese automaker reported a 7.2 per cent jump in global group sales last year, including those at small-car maker Daihatsu and truck unit Hino Motors.
Those two subsidiaries and affiliate Toyota Industries have been beset by governance issues involving certification test procedures for cars and engines that could potentially hurt the brand’s global reputation for quality and safety.
“I would like to express my deepest apologies to our customers and stakeholders for the inconvenience and concern caused by the successive irregularities at Hino Motors, Daihatsu and Toyota Industries,” Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda told reporters at an event to announce a vision for the Toyota group founded by his great-grandfather that now includes 17 companies.
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One of the five attitudes laid out for employees to focus on was: “Be honest and make things in a right way.”
The company said the event, originally planned for Feb. 14, the birthday of its late founder Sakichi Toyoda, was brought forward in light of recent irregularities at Toyota’s group companies.
Toyota’s global group sales have now topped 10 million vehicles for nine of the past 10 years, except for 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic delivered a blow to the auto sector.
Second-ranked German rival Volkswagen Group this month reported a 12 per cent rise in deliveries last year to 9.2 million cars, marking a post-pandemic recovery as supply chain bottlenecks eased.
Tuesday’s data showed sales of Toyota’s parent-only vehicles, which include those of its namesake and Lexus brands, hit a record of 10.3 million vehicles in 2023.
Gasoline-electric hybrids made up about a third of those. Battery electric vehicles accounted for less than 1 per cent.
Toyota, however, risks a slowdown in the group’s sales momentum after Daihatsu last month suspended shipments of all its cars after a safety scandal investigation found issues involving 64 models, including almost two dozen sold under Toyota’s brand.