Toyota is still the world’s number one carmaker, selling 10.23 million vehicles in 2014, but has warned that 2015 will see it suffer a drop in annual sales for the first time in at least 15 years.
It blames that on falling demand in Japan – down nine percent – and Indonesia as well as other key markets. It sees flat sales in Europe this year.
Volkswagen was second in worldwide sales for 2014 with 10.14 million vehicles delivered, General Motors was third with 9.92 million vehicles sold.
VW’s aggressive expansion plans could mean it overtakes Toyota for the top spot this year, ahead of the German carmaker’s self-imposed deadline of 2018.
China, where VW plans to raise production, is key.
Toyota expects growth in China, the world’s biggest auto market, to halve this year after sales fell short of its target in 2014 on the back of a slowing economy and political tensions between Beijing and Tokyo.
In contrast, China, the world’s biggest car market, helped rival Volkswagen clock in growth of 4.2 percent last year, better than Toyota’s 3.0 percent and GM’s 2.1 percent increases.