The new Corolla, due in SA this February, will no doubt drive Toyota prospects further in the coming year.

Tokyo - Toyota once again topped the global sales chart in 2013, outpacing General Motors and Volkswagen to maintain the honour of being the world's biggest car company.

Toyota's highest-ever annual sales volume, of 9.98 million vehicles, came on the back of a weaker yen and strong US sales, signalling that it had finally recovered from a series of damaging safety recalls and Japan's 2011 quake-tsunami disaster.

Runner up on the global sales chart was GM, which said it sold 9.71 million cars last year, while Volkswagen logged annual sales of 9.5 million.

Toyota broke GM's decades-long reign as the world's top carmaker back in 2008, but it lost the crown three years later as the quake-tsunami hammered production and disrupted the supply chains in Japan. However, Toyota retook the lead in 2012.


2014 looks to be an even stronger year for Toyota, which expect to become the first carmaker to break the 10 million barrier in a single year.

So what exactly is Toyota's secret to success? It's a debatable point, but SMBC motoring analyst Shotaro Noguchi puts it down to a "comprehensive edge" in product line-up, sales network and cost structure.

"They have maintained that balance well, compared to rivals," he said.

"Toyota should have reached the 10 million mark sooner if they had not faced major negative factors like the impact of the quake disaster and flooding in Thailand."

But he warned that the auto giant should not get complacent, adding: "If they only pay attention to production and sales figures, they could lose their competitive edge and wind up in trouble."