Official: Toyota now No. 4 automaker in the world after GM,  VW and Renault-Nissan image

Toyota Motor Corp., on Wednesday confirmed that its world group sales fell below the eight million mark in 2011 AFP reports.

According to the report, the Japanese automaker sold 7.95 vehicles worldwide, down six percent — mostly because supply chains were disrupted by the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as flooding in Thailand.

General Motors Co. sold 9.03 million vehicles worldwide last year, the company said on its Web site. Deliveries rose 7.6 percent from 8.39 million in 2010 and topped Volkswagen AG‘s 8.16 million by 11 percent.

But shortly after GM’s disclosure, Volkswagen argued it, in fact, was the top-seller last year if sales of its affiliates are included. Volkswagen’s figures don’t include the contributions of majority-ownership stakes in truck makers MAN SE and Scania AB, which will be added in a few weeks, a Volkswagen spokesman said. The truck makers might add 200,000 vehicles to VW’s sales total.

VW has said it aims to surpass GM and Toyota with 10 million sales by 2018. Executives privately want to meet the goal by 2015, a person with knowledge of the matter has said.

Toyota’s result was also below the 8.03 million total sales recorded by an alliance between France’s Renault, Japanese firm Nissan, and Avtovaz of Russia. That includes 638,000 vehicles sold by Russia’s AvtoVAZ OAO, in which Renault holds a 25% stake. The alliance has signaled its intention to increase its ownership to 50%, but hasn’t done it yet.