Toyota Motor Corporation has overtaken GM as the world's number one automaker after announcing global vehicle sales of 9,747,762 units in 2012. Sales figures include subsidiaries Daihatsu and Hino. The Japanese automaker sold 22.6% more vehicles compared to 2011 which was plagued by natural disasters in Japan and Thailand, and recall problems. Toyota also achieved their 200-millionth unit milestone in 2012.

GM in comparison sold 9,288,277, nearly 460,000 less than the Japanese automaker. Despite being in second, the US automaker was more concerned with their 10.1% improvement in International sales as the group tries to penetrate foreign markets. GM still enjoys its lead in the two largest markets in the world - the US and China.

"Chevrolet is in the midst of the most aggressive rollout of new products in its history, which helped us deliver our ninth-consecutive quarter of record global sales," said Don Johnson, Chevrolet vice president of U.S. sales and service.

In third overall was Volkswagen Group, which covers VW, Audi, Porsche, SEAT, and Skoda; logged sales of 9.07-million vehicles, this was the first time the German automaker surpassed the 9-million vehicle sales mark. The German automaker credits China as its biggest market where 2.81-million vehicles were sold, comprising nearly one-third of its total sales in 2012.

“The Volkswagen Group developed extremely well in difficult conditions. 2012 was the best sales year ever. This is another big step forward in our Strategy 2018. Tough challenges lie ahead. The Volkswagen Group has everything it takes to face these challenges and to play a leading role on world markets,” said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of Volkswagen AG.

Analysts are expecting GM could reclaim the top spot in 2013; Toyota sales are expected to decline due to a territorial dispute between Japan and China, while the recession in Europe will also affect Volkswagen Group’s sales.