Toyota Motor confirmed Wednesday that its world group sales fell below the 8m mark in 2011, losing the firm its number one spot in the global carmakers' league.

Total sales were 7.95m units worldwide, down 6% year on year, Toyota said, after supply chains were disrupted by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as flooding in Thailand. It also suffered from the high yen, news agency AFP reported.

Toyota had been the world's biggest carmaker since 2008 and sold 8.42m vehicles in 2010.

But its 2011 tally leaves General Motors, on 9.03m sales, in top spot after it emerged from bankruptcy, with Volkswagen Group in second place with 8.16m vehicles.

Toyota's result was also below the 8.03m total sales recorded by the Renault-Nissan alliance and Avtovaz.

Toyota's latest yearly sales figure appeared without comment at the bottom of a company press release announcing that it was increasing its 2012 sales target within Japan by 100,000 vehicles.

AFP noted that Toyota officials have previously said their focus was on producing quality vehicles, and that "to be first is important, but that's not the most important thing for us".

Toyota brand sales, which include Lexus vehicles, were down 6% in 2011, subsidiary Daihatsu was down 7%, while Hino, the truck unit, saw sales rise 14% last year.

The automaker now expects to sell 8.58m Toyota and Lexus vehicles worldwide in 2012, it said, an increase of 21% on 2011.

The 100,000 boost in the Japan sales forecast to 1.63m vehicles comes after the government extended tax breaks for environmentally friendly vehicles.