Toyota's full-year net profit jumped 10.3 percent even as the pandemic hit the auto industry, the Japanese firm said Wednesday, projecting growth despite the ongoing semiconductor crisis.

The global pandemic has hit automakers hard, with demand collapsing as the coronavirus forced people indoors and hit spending.

But the world's top-selling carmaker has bounced back quicker than its competitors, and also successfully weathered a chip shortage that has forced rivals to slash production targets.

Toyota said it generated 2.25 trillion yen ($20.6 billion) in the fiscal year to March, up from 2.04 trillion yen the year before, beating its own annual forecast.

For the year to March 2022, it now projects an annual net profit of 2.3 trillion yen, up 2.4 percent, on sales of 30 trillion yen, up 10.2 percent.

"Toyota's performance was outstanding, compared with its rivals," said Satoru Takada, auto analyst at Tokyo-based research and consulting firm TIW, told AFP before the announcement.

"Toyota has maintained steady production while releasing timely models in major markets."

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the global auto sector but demand recovered swiftly in the second half of last year, most notably in the United States and China.

Japanese auto giant Toyota has projected growth despite the ongoing semiconductor crisis
Japanese auto giant Toyota has projected growth despite the ongoing semiconductor crisis AFP / Charly TRIBALLEAU

Toyota last year overtook Volkswagen as the world's top carmaker for the first time in five years.

Even as vaccine rollouts put the end of the pandemic within sight for the hard-hit auto sector, it is battling a chip shortage driven by a surge in demand for electronic devices during lockdowns.

Supply disruptions including a fire at a Japanese factory, an extreme cold snap in the United States and a drought in Taiwan have compounded the mismatch between demand and availability.

Semiconductors are a key component in modern cars and the shortage has prompted major carmakers to reduce production around the world.

But Toyota has been significantly less affected than its rivals, thanks in part to a forward planning system intended to protect it from unexpected supply chain disruptions.

It also has close ties with its suppliers, including stakes in some of them, that have given it leverage and priority at a time when demand far outstrips supply, experts say.

On Tuesday, Toyota's smaller rival Nissan said it narrowed its net loss to 448.7 billion yen for the fiscal year to March, recovering from the pandemic.

But Nissan expects to stay in the red for the current year, warning its outlook remained clouded by the global chip shortage.