• Kyodo

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Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday its global sales surged 44.2% in March from a year ago to a record 982,912 units, buoyed by strength in key U.S. and Chinese markets and showing a sharp rebound from the initial fallout from the pandemic.

Toyota’s global sales and output rose for the seventh straight month on a year-on-year basis as it manufactured 843,393 vehicles in March, up 31.6%.

The pace of Toyota’s recovery has been faster than its rivals with a 19.1% jump in global sales for the first three months of 2021 from the previous year, much larger than its target of 10%.

Strong demand for sport utility vehicles and hybrids in the United States as well as the Corolla sedan and other vehicles in China lifted Toyota’s overseas sales to a record 791,568 units in March, up 57.8% from a year ago.

In its home market Japan, Toyota’s auto sales, which include minivehicles, rose 6.4% to 191,344 units in March.

For fiscal 2020 that ended in March, Toyota’s global sales fell 4.0% from a year earlier to 9.09 million units, while output dropped 6.4% to 8.18 million units.

The pandemic has also hurt sales at other major Japanese automakers including Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co.

The total global output of eight major Japanese automakers, including Toyota, Nissan and Honda, fell 12.1% from a year earlier to 23.35 million vehicles in fiscal 2020 due to sluggish sales and plant closures amid the pandemic.

In the year to December, Toyota reclaimed its crown as the world’s top-selling automaker for the first time in five years after selling 9.53 million units, outpacing German rival Volkswagen AG.

Toyota’s Yaris compact was the best-selling vehicle in Japan last year. The automaker’s group sales include those sold by minivehicle maker Daihatsu Motor Co. and truck manufacturer Hino Motors Ltd.

Among other Japanese automakers, Honda saw global output fall 5.0% to 4.53 million units in fiscal 2020, with the rapid recovery of demand in its mainstay Chinese market limiting the margin of decline.

For the year, Honda’s production in China hit a record-high 1.87 million vehicles, up 37.0% from the previous year.

Nissan’s global output in fiscal 2020 slumped 17.1% to 3.79 million units, while its partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in the three-way alliance with France’s Renault SA reported a drop of 39.1% from a year earlier to 813,829 vehicles.

The global production of Suzuki Motor Corp., Daihatsu, Mazda Motor Corp. and Subaru Corp. also decreased by double-digit percentages from the previous year.

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