Following record-breaking annual sales of 11.2 million vehicles in 2023, Toyota Motor Company maintained its position as the best-selling automaker in the world for a fourth year running. However, its chairman issued an apology on Tuesday regarding scandals involving three of its group companies. The Japanese carmaker revealed a 7.2% increase in group sales worldwide last year, which included sales at truck division Hino Motors and small-car manufacturer Daihatsu, both of which have been rocked by misconduct involving engine and vehicle inspection and testing processes. Chairman Akio Toyoda promised to increase compliance at his member companies, claiming that he had previously been too preoccupied with helping the business recover from a recall crisis that occurred in 2009–2010 to monitor issues at the affiliates.

Sales of Toyota’s pickup trucks and luxury brand Lexus, which are made at the Daihatsu plant in northeast Japan, were also included in the total. The Toyota Camry sedan, the brand’s best-selling model worldwide, saw an 8.6% increase in sales to 2.36 million units. The Tacoma pickup and the RAV4 crossover, two of the company’s other best-selling models, both experienced double-digit percentage sales increases.

For Toyota, which was negatively impacted by supply constraints in late 2021, the outcome was favorable as it hindered production and reduced passenger car sales. Although those problems have subsided as production has picked up again, they still pose a threat to Toyota’s quality and safety reputation and may impede the company’s growth as the largest automaker in the world.

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The investigation into diesel engine testing at Toyota Industries Corp., which provides engines to Daihatsu and Hino, preceded Toyota’s current problems. Following an investigation that revealed the company had rigged power and torque output tests, the transport ministry stopped shipping some diesel vehicles both domestically and internationally. Since then, the business has expressed regret for the issue, which is being looked into by an outside panel.

The company’s founder’s grandson, Toyoda, expressed regret to customers that the scandals involving misconduct had left them “troubled and worried.” He committed to strengthening member companies’ oversight and raising their understanding of the significance of compliance. Additionally, he promised to improve communication between his company and each of the businesses.

Robert Henso

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