Japanese car giant Toyota has overtaken Volkswagen for the top sales spot globally in 2020, analysts predict it's the start of a five-year trend.
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Japanese car giant Toyota and its affiliated brands – Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino – regained the top automotive sales spot globally in 2020.

Toyota's 2020 result ended a four-year run at the top of the charts by the Volkswagen Group – which includes brands such as Audi, Skoda, Seat, Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti and Scania and MAN trucks.

Sales data over the past decade shows, prior to 2020, the Volkswagen Group led for four years in a row after a four-year streak by the Toyota group of companies.

US car giant General Motors briefly regained top spot in 2011 – after three years behind Toyota – as sales of the Japanese brand stalled when an earthquake in Japan and floods in Thailand interrupted production.

The latest annual result means Toyota has led for eight of the past 13 years.

Toyota earned top spot in 2008 after a dead-heat finish to the 2007 sales race (see table below).

When Toyota overtook General Motors in 2008 – in the grip of the Global Financial Crisis – it ended GM's record 77-year run at the top of the global sales charts.

Market analysts predict Toyota will likely dominate global automotive sales for the next half decade as Volkswagen restructures and pivots towards electric cars, and other companies ramp up production in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Car giants such as Hyundai-Kia, the Nissan-Mitsubishi-Renault Alliance, and Stellantis (the name for the merger of the FCA and PSA conglomerates which will link Peugeot and Citroen to Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram) could soon overtake General Motors after the former Number One recently exited Europe, Thailand, India and Australia.

Data below was sourced from car makers, annual reports, and financial news outlets.

Toyota GroupVolkswagen GroupGeneral Motors
20209.53 million9.31 millionTBA
201910.74 million10.97 million7.72 million
201810.59 million10.83 million8.39 million
201710.39 million10.74 million9.60 million
201610.17 million10.29 million10.10 million
201510.15 million9.93 million9.96 million
201410.23 million10.14 million9.93 million
20139.98 million9.73 million9.71 million
20129.75 million9.28 million9.29 million
20117.95 million8.27 million9.02 million
20108.42 million7.28 million8.38 million
20097.57 million6.31 million7.48 million
20088.97 million6.27 million8.35 million
20079.366 million6.192 million9.369 million

Note: Bold figures indicate leadership in that particular calendar year.