Despite a recession in Europe and a shaky economy in North America, Toyota Motor Corp. is having a good year. So good that the Japanese automaker raised its estimate for the number of cars it will sell globally this year to a record 9.76 million, up 23% from last year.
That would guarantee that Toyota would surpass General Motors Co. to regain its spot as the world's largest automaker.
A host of new models and a rebound from the production and inventory problems caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last year are responsible for Toyota's gains.
The improvement was evident in the latest U.S. sales numbers. Through the first seven months of the year, Toyota sales have risen 28% to more than 1.2 million vehicles. Its share of the U.S. market has climbed to 14.4% from 12.8% during the same period a year earlier.
The redesigned Toyota Camry is a big reason. With sales up 40% to almost 244,000 vehicles, it is the bestselling passenger car in America by a wide margin.
Camry sales helped Toyota post a fiscal first-quarter profit of 290.3 billion yen ($3.7 billion), up from 1.1 billion yen in the same period a year earlier. Its revenue jumped nearly 60% to 5.5 trillion yen ($70.5 billion).
"Toyota's recovery has been a remarkable one this year. The automaker not only regained all of the lost market share they suffered in 2011 but they also brought their average transaction prices to over $28,000 [in the U.S.] for the first time ever," said Jesse Toprak, an analyst for auto price information company TrueCar.com.