Toyota remains world's largest car manufacturer

Toyota remains world's largest car manufacturer

Toyota has held onto its crown as the world's biggest car manufacturer after first quarter sales results were revealed.

The Japanese giant sold 2.43 million vehicles globally in the first three months of 2013, fending off strong competition from both Volkswagen and General Motors, which sold 2.27 million and 2.36 million respectively.
Despite retaining its title, Toyota's sales were down 2.2 per cent on the same period last year, whereas Volkswagen posted increases of 5.1 per cent.

The downturn has been attributed to anti-Japanese sentiment in some of the company's larger markets, particularly China, where territorial disputes between the two countries have got Chinese motorists concerned about being seen in a Japanese car.

In contrast, rival manufacturers are thriving in the People's Republic, with the country now the largest market for many marques.

Sales have also been affected in Toyota's domestic market, with a recent government green car subsidy scheme - which helped boost the popularity of hybrid models such as the Prius - coming to an end.

In total, sales were down 13 per cent in China and 15 per cent in Japan compared to last year. Toyota says the situation is slowly improving, though it would take some time to get back into a position of solid growth.

The title of world's largest car manufacturer is hotly contested. Toyota took it from General Motors in 2008 after seven decades of the American manufacturer reigning supreme. GM briefly won it back in 2011 when Toyota's factories and supply chain were affected by a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Toyota has also recently battled Ford over the world's most popular car. The Ford Focus took the title, despite Toyota selling more examples of its Corolla over the same time period. Toyota lost out due to the fact that the Corolla is sold with different name plates in different markets (e.g. Auris in the UK) and the Focus was deemed to be the most popular single model.
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