The Japanese company’s sales grew 8% from the previous year to 8.4 million vehicles, slightly ahead of the 8.39 million cars sold by Chevrolet and Buick General Motors in 2010, driven by strong growth in the Asian market.
Toyota recalled more than 10 million vehicles last year due to potential safety issues ranging from engine control system problems to faulty floor mats.
Although North American sales fell 2% to 1.94 million vehicles, its Japanese sales softened the impact as the amount of vehicles sold in the Asian territory rose 10% to 2.2 million.
General Motors, which held the world’s largest carmaker title for 80 years until 2008, saw sales rise 12.2% on the previous year.
In December last year, Toyota GB appointed Matt Harrison as its commercial director to drive UK growth. His appointment came as the company set a target of increasing global sales by 3% in 2011.