NAGOYA – The Toyota Motor Corp. group is certain to lead global auto sales in the first half of 2022, topping the list ahead of German rival Volkswagen AG for the third straight year, amid a global chip shortage and Covid-19 lockdowns in China, industry data showed Thursday.

The Japanese automaker said it sold roughly 5.14 million vehicles globally in the reporting period, including those sold by the group's mini-vehicle maker Daihatsu Motor Co. and truck manufacturer Hino Motors Ltd., down 6 percent from a year earlier, marking the first drop in two years.

The fall in sales stemmed from the reduced global output, which declined 3.8 percent to 5.1 million units, also shrinking for the first time in two years, although it managed to limit the impact of the semiconductor shortage that has dealt a blow to automakers worldwide.

Toyota's global sales surpassed that of rival Volkswagen, whose global sales plunged 22.2 percent to 3.88 million vehicles in the reporting period.

"Sales volume has never been our top priority," a Toyota official said after the release of its results. "We will continue to prioritize safety and quality and strive to make better cars."

Impacted largely by the parts shortage, Toyota's domestic sales plunged 18.1 percent to 954,173 units, with domestic output shedding 17.7 percent to 1.74 million units, as many cars produced in Japan incorporate cutting-edge componentry that relies on semiconductors.

Overseas sales dropped 2.8 percent to 4.18 million vehicles, but overseas production grew 5.6 percent to 3.35 million units, registering a record high for the first half-year period, thanks to expanded production capacity in China.

The automaker's global sales in June, excluding those of Daihatsu and Hino, fell 3.2 percent from a year earlier to 817,321 units.

Its global production dropped 4.6 percent to 793,378 cars.

Among other Japanese carmakers, Honda Motor Co.'s first-half global sales decreased 19.5 percent to 1.9 million units on declines in North America and Asia.

Nissan Motor Co. saw a 23.9 percent slide in worldwide sales to 1.67 million vehicles.

Those of Suzuki Motor Corp. increased 2 percent to 1.47 million units on brisk sales in India.

Total global sales by the eight major Japanese automakers, also including Subaru Corp., Mazda Motor Corp., Mitsubishi Motors Corp., and Daihatsu declined 11.4 percent in the six months from a year before to 11.63 million units.

Their total global production was down 6 percent to 11.56 million vehicles. (Kyodo)