Photo/IllutrationCarlos Ghosn, chairman of Nissan Motor Co., Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and French carmaker Renault SA, speaks in Las Vegas on Jan. 10. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The alliance of Nissan Motor Co., Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and France’s Renault SA sold more than 10 million vehicles for the first time and placed second in the world rankings in 2017, the companies said.

Their combined global sales of 10.6 million, up 6.5 percent from the previous year, trailed only the 10.74 million vehicles sold by Germany's Volkswagen AG (VW), they said on Jan. 30.

Toyota Motor Corp. ranked third, with sales of 10.38 million units, including those of subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd. It was the first time in six years that Toyota has failed to top the sales list or place second.

Mitsubishi joined the Nissan-Renault alliance in 2016 after it was caught cheating on fuel-efficiency figures for its vehicles.

In 2017, Mitsubishi sold 1.03 million units, up 10.3 percent from 2016, when sales slumped because of the fuel-efficiency scandal. Its sales rose 6.9 percent in Japan and 56.1 percent in China last year.

Nissan’s performance also improved in 2017, despite a different scandal. The automaker sold 5.81 million units worldwide, up 4.6 percent from the previous year, with sales particularly strong in China.

Renault’s sales were up 8.5 percent to 3.76 million units in 2017, mainly because of robust performances in Europe.

In the first six months of 2017, the alliance’s sales surpassed those of VW by more than 100,000 units.

But Nissan’s domestic sales from October to December plunged by 28.9 percent from a year earlier because of the scandal, in which unqualified workers were found to be conducting safety checks on its cars for the Japanese market.

That enabled VW to squeeze by the alliance by a margin of only about 140,000 vehicles for the year.

However, Carlos Ghosn, who serves as chairman of the three carmakers, suggested that the alliance was tops in sales if the rankings were based on sales of passenger cars and small commercial vehicles and took VW’s large trucks out of the equation.

“(The alliance) has become the No. 1 automotive group in the world,” Ghosn said.

Although Toyota’s sales of 10.38 million units in 2017 marked an annual record for the automaker, the growth rate from the preceding year was only 2.1 percent.

Toyota’s sales in the United States fell 0.6 percent although the U.S. market accounted for about a quarter of the company’s total sales.

In particular, sales of small and midsize cars, including the Prius, dropped 11.5 percent.