GM and VW behind Toyota’s forecasted sales for 2012 image

General Motors failed to outsell Toyota’s forecasted 9.7 million deliveries for 2012, but narrowly exceeded VW Group’s sales.

GM’s 2012 sales rose 2.9 percent to more than 9.2 million vehicles last year, while VW reported 9.07 million sales. It is likely that Toyota has regained its spot as the world’s top-selling carmaker after losing it in 2011 following the natural disasters in Asia that caused production shortages.

GM’s best-ever year for sales was 2007, when it delivered 9.37 million vehicles. However, it appears that being No. 1 in sales is not a priority for the company. “As I said last year at this time, I didn’t necessarily want to be No. 1 in sales as much as I did No. 1 in profit. That’s what we focus on,” GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson told reporters on Monday at the Detroit auto show.

The close finish highlights a tight battle as all three automakers plan on further growth. Both VW and Toyota have plans to reach 10 million sales in a year. GM had held the title of top-selling automaker worldwide for 77 years before losing it to Toyota in 2008. In 2011, GM regained the title as Toyota struggled with production shortages caused by natural disasters in Japan and Thailand.