Toyota Motor Corp. has retained its post as the world’s best-selling auto maker, announcing Wednesday that it sold 10.15 million vehicles world-wide in 2015.
The company also said it was considering taking full control of small-car maker Daihatsu Motor Co., in which it currently holds a 51.2% stake. Toyota and Daihatsu said they were looking at that option and others in response to a report in the Nikkei newspaper.
Toyota’s 2015 group sales, which include subsidiaries Daihatsu and Hino Motors Ltd., fell 0.8% from 2014, the car maker said Wednesday. Sales declined year-over-year because strong sales in the U.S. could not offset slowdowns in Southeast Asia and other emerging markets.
The Japanese giant has kept a sales edge over General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG with its relatively balanced product portfolio and global reach, though the race remains close. Toyota has kept the No. 1 spot for seven out of the last eight years after taking over from GM in 2008, falling out of the top spot only in 2011 when it struggled to resume production after an earthquake struck Japan.
Toyota, Volkswagen and GM account for roughly a third of the vehicles sold world-wide. Around 90 million vehicles were sold world-wide in 2015, according to estimates by IHS Automotive. In 2015, Volkswagen sold 9.9 million vehicles, but struggled late in the year after a scandal involving falsified emissions erupted in September. GM sold 9.8 million vehicles, benefitting from strong demand in the U.S. and growth in China.
Toyota has been considering cooperating with Suzuki Motor Co. over fuel-saving and safety technologies and over operations in India, a Suzuki stronghold, a person with knowledge of the matter said. The Nikkei reported earlier that Toyota and Suzuki were in partnership negotiations, but both companies denied that they have started such negotiations.
Shares in Suzuki, Japan’s fourth-biggest auto maker by global sales volume, rose more than 10% in early trading. Daihatsu shares were untraded. Toyota shares were up around 3% in early afternoon trade.
Toyota already has capital ties or business partnerships with several of Japan’s smaller car makers, including Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Mazda Motor Corp. and truck maker Isuzu Motors Ltd.