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Toyota Motor Corporation has regained its title as the world’s leading car maker in 2012, outselling key rivals General Motors and Volkswagen Group in what was a record year for the Japanese manufacturer.

Bloomberg reports Toyota (which includes subsidiaries Hino and Daihatsu) sold 9.75 million vehicles around the world in 2012, eclipsing the efforts of 2011-leader GM (9.29 million) and rising German powerhouse Volkswagen (9.07 million).

Toyota’s sales increased 23 per cent last year, surpassing the company’s previous record of 9.37 million vehicle sales in 2007. Sales of second-ranked GM increased roughly three per cent in 2012, while Volkswagen narrowed the gap with a 12 per cent sales increase – delivering almost one million more cars than in the previous year.

Toyota’s gains followed a challenging 2011, the company having struggled with a spate of recalls, and the effects of natural disasters in Japan and Thailand.

The Japanese car maker predicts its global sales will increase around 1.6 per cent to 9.91 million units in 2013 on the back of a strengthening US market, a weakening yen and an anticipated recovery in China, where Toyota last year recorded its first annual sales decline in more than a decade.