After its sales were hampered in 2011 by an earthquake in Japan and flooding in Thailand, not to mention ongoing unintended acceleration claims, Toyota rebounded in 2012 to reclaim the title of world’s largest automaker which it had lost to General Motors the preceding year.

The Japanese automaker’s sales topped 9.7 million vehicles worldwide during 2012, versus the 9.29 million vehicle sales of General Motors Company [NYSE:GM].

That represents an increase in sales of 22 percent for Toyota, thanks mostly to the launch of a new Camry sedan. GM, meanwhile, experienced a more modest increase of 2.9 percent.

Not far behind in the sales race was German automotive giant Volkswagen, which saw its sales grow by 11.2 percent during 2012 to achieve a new record of 9.07 million vehicles.

While only Volkswagen publicly admits that being the biggest automaker is one of its main goals, both GM and Toyota concede that the title is a morale booster for employees, reports the Associated Press.

All three companies are predicting sales to grow further in 2013, but Toyota is expected to retain the crown thanks to the introduction of a brand new Corolla during the period. The compact car has consistently rated as one of the most popular models in the world.  

Interestingly, none of these automakers can boast that they built the top-selling vehicle worldwide in 2012. That title went to Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] and its stylish new Focus range of hatchback, wagons and sedans. While an exact figure is yet to be announced, it is predicted that approximately one million units were sold.