TOKYO — Toyota remains No. 1 in global vehicles sales after the first half of 2014, followed by Volkswagen, which bumped General Motors out of second place as the U.S. automaker grapples with a recall scandal.
Toyota announced Wednesday that January-June global sales totaled 5.097 million vehicles, up nearly 4 percent from a year earlier. Sales grew in its home Japanese market, as well as the rest of Asia, United States and Europe.
Sales in Japan were strong because of a rush to beat the rise in the consumption tax that kicked in April 1, according to Toyota.
Toyota's vehicle sales soared 12 percent in China while they also held up in North America, growing 5 percent. Toyota also did well in Europe, with sales edging up 8 percent.
Germany's Volkswagen sold 4.97 million vehicles in the first half, outpacing General Motors at 4.92 million, according to figures released earlier this month. VW's sales are growing faster than that of Detroit-based GM, which is grappling with a major recall over faulty ignition switches.
Toyota, which makes the Camry sedan, Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models, finished first last year with a record 9.98 million vehicles. GM was second and VW third.
Toyota expects to sell more than 10 million vehicles this year.
GM had been the top-selling automaker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008. GM retook the sales crown in 2011, when Toyota's production was hurt by the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
Toyota made a comeback in 2012 and appears on track to retain its title this year.
The battle among the three automakers remains tight, fought out in still largely untested territory in new markets.
Toyota is a relative latecomer in China, for instance, whereas GM and VW are longtime powerhouses there. Toyota, however, is rapidly catching up.