Ford, Toyota fight over top-selling car

Published: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 3:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 3:19 p.m.


A name makes all the difference in the fight between Ford and Toyota over who has the top-selling car in the world.

Last Wednesday, Ford claimed that crown for its Focus compact during the first half of the year, based on registration data gathered by the R.L. Polk & Co. research firm.

The Dearborn, Mich.-based company sold 589,709 Focuses from January through June across the globe, a 20 percent increase over the first half of last year, said Erich Merkle, Ford's top sales analyst.

The Focus, according to Ford, beat the perennial No. 2 Toyota Corolla, although Merkle said he could not release Polk's numbers for the Corolla. A Polk spokeswoman confirmed that the number provided by Ford was accurate, but declined further comment.

But Toyota disputes Ford's leadership. The Japanese automaker has said it sold a Corolla hatchback under the Matrix name, and it sells cars that are nearly identical to the Corolla under different names in countries outside the U.S. Ford doesn't tally Toyota's other nameplates in its count.

A Toyota spokeswoman said last Wednesday that the company disagrees with Ford and is drawing up a response to Ford's claims.

Focus sales aren't as hot in the U.S., where they're up only 1 percent to 188,654 through September. U.S. sales overall are up more than 8 percent for the first three quarters of the year, according to Autodata Corp.

Corolla's U.S. sales also lag the overall market. They're up 5 percent through September. That's because Toyota had a 5-year-old model on the market until it was replaced recently by a new, sleeker-looking version.

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