Tuesday, as the Japanese automaker revealed record-breaking 11.2 million car sales across all of its brands last year, its chairman expressed his “ashamed” feelings over the current problems involving its subsidiaries.
Thanks to a rebound in demand and reducing chip shortages, Toyota has maintained its position as the best-selling carmaker globally for four years running with this bumper figure, an industry record.
With the exception of the Toyota and Lexus brands, global volume sales reached 10.3 million units. However, Daihatsu, a manufacturer of small cars involved in a forged safety test dispute, had a decline in growth.
Volume sales for truck and bus manufacturer Hino, which has also been impacted by a controversy involving faked engine tests in Japan, fell by about 10%.
It happened the day after Toyota announced that it was stopping the shipping of ten vehicles with diesel engines connected to abnormalities in testing at a subsidiary, Toyota Industries.
At a press conference on Tuesday, board chairman Akio Toyoda expressed regret and acknowledged that he was ultimately responsible for the misconduct.
“I deeply apologise for the repeated wrongdoings by Hino Motors, Daihatsu Motor, and Toyota Industries that have caused troubles and worries to customers and stakeholders,” he stated to reporters.
He claimed to be “ashamed” of the situation and claimed that “they lost sight of the values and priorities that should have been upheld.”
“Gaining the trust of our customers will require time,” Toyoda stated, stated to spearhead a “transformation.”
In comparison, the Volkswagen Group of Germany sold 9.2 million vehicles, a 12 percent increase in unit sales, while Toyota’s total vehicle sales statistic increased by 7.2 percent year over year.
Hyundai-Kia, a South Korean company, held third position in 2023 with 7.3 million units sold, an increase of 6.7%.
However, Elon Musk’s US electric carmaker Tesla continues to rank higher than the Japanese giant in terms of market value.
For its performance, Toyota was given praise for “solid demand in each region, in addition to easing semiconductor shortages in each region.”
The sales total on Tuesday above Toyota’s previous record of 10.7 million, which it had established in 2019, the year before it passed Volkswagen, and included sales for the Toyota, Lexus, Daihatsu, and Hino brands.
With 10.97 million units sold in 2019, Volkswagen set the previous industry record.
Tatsuo Yoshida, an auto analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, told AFP that scandals involving subsidiaries “could potentially have repercussions on Toyota’s overall reputation, especially if there are concerns about corporate governance or ethical practices.”
“However, there are millions of happy owners of Toyota, Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino vehicles… such strong consumer confidence is a valuable asset and won’t deteriorate instantly,” he stated.
Toyota has historically prioritized hybrid vehicles over electric vehicles, therefore it has been slower than some of its competitors to invest in electric vehicles.
It sold just 104,018 EVs in 2023, a little amount compared to Tesla’s 1.81 million and BYD’s 1.57 million units in China.
Sales of hybrid Toyota vehicles increased 31.4 percent to 3.4 million units in the previous year.
However, the business has stated that it intends to provide an electric variant of each Toyota and Lexus vehicle worldwide by 2025.
Additionally, it plans to sell 1.5 million EVs a year by 2026 and 3.5 million by 2030. This month, it announced plans to greatly expand its electric battery plant located in North Carolina.
As a result of Toyota’s slow EV sales growth and the recent backlash against battery-powered cars, Yoshida stated that reaching the 2026 target may be “more difficult” than anticipated.
“Whether this goal is achievable or might be postponed depends on various factors, including advancements in technology, market demand, regulatory environment, and Toyota’s ability to ramp up production and innovation.”
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