Despite a series of high-profile recalls and safety issues, Japanese auto major Toyota Motors still managed to beat General Motors in total unit sales and remain the largest car manufacturer in the planet.

The carmaker sold 8.418 million vehicles, against arch rival General Motors' 8.39 million vehicles in 2010.

Being number one in term of sales is not important for us, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco told AFP. Our objective is to become number one with the customer, in terms of service and customer satisfaction.

The Toyota group, including small car producer Daihatsu Motor and truck maker Hino Motors, saw its Japanese sales jump 10 percent while foreign sales rose seven percent.

Toyota Motor alone sold 7.528 million vehicles, up eight percent from the previous year.

The carmaker has recalled more than 8 million vehicles globally during 2010 for defects linked to unintended acceleration and various other problems.

The recalls, which has continued unabated since 2009, has resulted in Federal prosecutors auctioning a criminal investigation against Toyota related to safety issues in Feb. 2010.

The Toyota recall saga is punctuated with some high-profile recalls like its Sept. 2009 recall of 3.8 million vehicles which was triggered by the death of Highway Patrol officer and his family due the jamming of the gas medal to the floor of the car in Aug. 2009.

Subsequently, this was followed by an additional recall of 4 million and 1.5 million cars in Nov. 2009. Recalls based on the defective gas pedal flowed in 2010 with Toyota recalling 2.3 million cars in January. Toyota had estimated that it would incur a cost of $2 billion in February.

Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda also issued an apology for the recalls in February. The recall contagion spread to its other high-profile models like its hybrid model Prius and Tacoma trucks.

In May, Toyota also paid a fine of $16.4 million to settle the allegations filed by federal prosecutors. In the following months, Toyota recalled 270,000 Lexus and Crown models globally, followed by 412,000 Avalons and topping it all with a recall of 1.13 million Corolla vehicles.

However, with everything in the past, the carmaker expects to sell 7.7 million vehicles worldwide next year, up 3 percent from 2010, by tapping emerging Asian markets, such as China and India.