• Kyodo, Bloomberg

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Toyota Motor Corp. remained the world’s best-selling automaker with a record 5.47 million vehicles sold for the first six months of 2021, outpacing German archrival Volkswagen AG, the Japanese company’s data showed Thursday.

It is the second year in a row that Toyota has been the world’s top automaker in the first half, underscoring its sharp recovery from the initial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and relative resilience despite a global chip crunch.

Toyota’s previous record sales for the first half of a year was set in 2019 with about 5.31 million units sold globally.

Toyota has enjoyed robust sales in its key markets such as the United States and China. A Toyota official said the automaker has been able to “limit” the impact of the global semiconductor shortage.

In the January-June period, Toyota sold 5,467,218 vehicles globally, up 31.3% from a year earlier. The figure includes those sold by its minivehicle-manufacturing subsidiary Daihatsu Motor Co. and truck maker Hino Motors Ltd.

Volkswagen sold 4,978,200 vehicles in the same period, up 27.9% from a year earlier.

In the six months to June, strong demand for new models in North America and China lifted Toyota’s overseas sales to a record 4.3 million units, a 36.5% year-on-year jump.

In Japan, the manufacturer of the Harrier SUV and Yaris compact car reported a 15.0% gain in sales to 1.17 million vehicles, including minicars with engines of up to 660 cc., Toyota said.

Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., which have formed a three-way alliance with France’s Renault SA, are set to release their sales figures later in the day, but they are expected to be far behind Toyota in global sales.

In the whole of 2020, Toyota reclaimed its crown as the top-selling automaker from Volkswagen for the first time in five years.

The global shortage of chips has forced automakers including Toyota and Volkswagen to curb production, casting a shadow over the auto industry. The pandemic has been boosting demand for semiconductors, used in a variety of products from laptops and game consoles to cars.

Volkswagen on Thursday lifted its earnings outlook after strong profits at its luxury-car brands helped to limit the fallout from the chip shortage, which forced it to cut expectations for deliveries this year.

The automaker expects adjusted operating return on sales to rise to between 6% to 7.5%, raising its outlook for a second time this year. Semiconductor scarcity will be more severe during the second half of the year, VW said, also highlighting risks from volatile commodity prices.

“We have successfully contained the impacts of the semiconductor bottlenecks to date, although we anticipate somewhat more pronounced effects in the third quarter,” Chief Financial Officer Arno Antlitz said in a statement.

VW is joining peers including Daimler AG and Stellantis NV with robust results, bucking chip issues that have stymied manufacturing worldwide along with lingering restrictions related to the pandemic. Solid profits are pivotal to financing VW’s plans to phase out combustion engines and push into software, mobility services and automated driving features.

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