The Toyota logo is seen at a dealership of Japan's Toyota Motor Corp in Brussels.

Tokyo - Toyota and Nissan on Monday posted record sales for 2012 as the Japanese car giants benefited from a pick-up in demand, with Toyota recapturing the world's biggest automaker crown from General Motors.

Toyota said sales last year soared 22.6 percent to 9.75 million vehicles, while Nissan saw a 5.8 percent on-year rise to 4.94

million units.

The figures confirmed that Toyota regained the global sales crown lost to US-based GM in 2011 as the March 11 Japanese tsunami hammered demand and production.

Robust Asian sales and a pick-up in North America helped drive sales, offsetting weak demand in Europe and the effects of Tokyo's diplomatic row with Beijing, which sparked a Chinese consumer boycott of Japanese goods in the latter part of the year.

In November, Toyota hiked its profit forecast to 780 billion yen ($8.57 billion) for the fiscal year to March, up from 760 billion yen, but said sales would be 21.3 trillion yen, trimming an earlier target of 22 trillion yen.

Nissan, part-owned by France's Renault, warned net profit for the fiscal year would be 320 billion yen, down 20 percent from its earlier estimate of 400 billion yen, citing its heavy exposure to the Chinese market.

A strong yen and uncertainty in China and Europe have weighed on Japan's automakers, with Toyota crediting its rosier profit outlook to cost-cutting, including a decrease in labour, research and development expenses. - Sapa-AFP