GM barely holds onto No. 1 spot
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 9:35 p.m.
TOKYO - Toyota said today it sold 9.366 million vehicles around the world last year, about 3,000 fewer than the tally from General Motors - the world's No. 1 automaker for 77 years.
Earlier, Toyota Motor Corp. said it had sold about 9.37 million vehicles worldwide last year, making for an extremely tight race with U.S. automaker General Motors Corp., which said it sold 9,369,524 vehicles.
But Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco confirmed the extra digit today.
Both companies have denied they are too concerned about the numbers games.
Toyota executives even have expressed worries about a possible backlash if they dethrone GM, an American icon. The Japanese automaker has been setting up more plants in North America and has tried to show it's a good U.S. corporate citizen.
But the razor-thin margin that determined last year's sales leader underlines GM's struggles, with recent years of job cuts, earning losses and plant closures - as well as Toyota's phenomenal growth not only in the U.S. but in emerging markets.
Still, it was in new markets such as China that GM still led Toyota, managing to come out ahead for the time being.
But the competition in such markets is likely to determine the winner in the long run.
Toyota has seized the lead in ecological hybrids with its hit Prius, which runs on a gas engine and electric motor, selling more hybrids than any other automaker. And that edge came at a good time when consumers were looking for good mileage cars amid soaring gas prices.
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