Toyota has regained the number one spot for worldwide sales.
Last year drivers bought 9.75 million of its vehicles.
As a result the Japanese carmaker overtook its American and German rivals – General Motors and Volkswagen.
Toyota had fallen into third position, behind them, in 2011, having held the top spot from 2008 to 2010.
That was because it suffered a wave of negative publicity from recalls in the United States, and its supply chain was disrupted following an earthquake in Japan and floods in Thailand.
Nissan also announced record sales – up 5.8 percent – as did Honda, with a 19 percent rise.
GM sold 9.28 million vehicles in 2012, up 2.9 percent from a year ago, while Volkswagen sold 9.07 million vehicles, up 11.2 percent.
Toyota aims to sell 9.91 million vehicles group-wide globally in 2013, up 1.6 percent from 2012.
The Toyota group also includes sales at its small car subsidiary Daihatsu and truck maker Hino. Toyota-only sales hit a record-high 8.72 million vehicles, up 22.8 percent on a year ago.