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Toyota Extends Global Lead Over GM on Quarterly Gain

Toyota Motor Corp.’s worldwide sales grew 18 percent last quarter on U.S. demand for Camry sedans and Prius hybrids and helped Asia’s largest automaker expand its lead over General Motors Co., the global volume leader in 2011.

Toyota delivered 2.43 million cars and trucks in the quarter that ended Sept. 30, including subsidiaries Hino Motors Ltd. and Daihatsu Motor Co., up from 2.06 million a year ago, according to figures provided by Yurika Motoyoshi, a company spokeswoman, yesterday. Its sales rose 28 percent to 7.4 million units through September. GM had 2.28 million sales in the quarter and 6.95 million this year through September, Jim Cain, a company spokesman, said in a phone interview yesterday.

“Thinking back to the start of the year, I didn’t expect Toyota to recover as quickly as it has,” said Ed Kim, an industry analyst at researcher AutoPacific Inc. in Tustin, California. “Toyota has such a huge and massive owner base that keeps coming back for more and more. That was underestimated.”

President Akio Toyoda plans to introduce 19 models this year as Toyota heads toward regaining the title of the world’s biggest carmaker. The Toyota City, Japan-based company is counting on the U.S. to make up for falling sales in China, where a territorial dispute with Japan threatens Toyota’s goal of selling a record 9.76 million vehicles globally in 2012.

China, U.S.

Toyota’s sales in China fell 49 percent in September, the biggest drop since January 2002, according to company figures. In the quarter, Toyota sold 197,700 units in China, 23 percent fewer than last year, the company said Oct. 9. Dion Corbett, a Tokyo-based spokesman at the company, said at the time that meeting the annual China target was “looking very difficult.”

By comparison, U.S. sales of Toyota, Lexus, and Scion vehicles rose 38 percent in the quarter that ended in September to 525,328 units. That boosted the carmaker’s market share this year through September to 14.4 percent from 12.5 percent a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp., a Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based industry researcher.

Toyota wants to boost U.S. sales by about 30 percent this year, aided by a 20 percent increase in October, Bill Fay, the company’s group vice president for U.S. sales, said this week. Through September, Toyota’s U.S. sales rose 32 percent to 1.57 million vehicles.

Based on sales through September, Toyota may deliver about 2 million vehicles in the U.S. this year, its highest volume in that market since 2008, based on a Bloomberg calculation.

Volkswagen Rises

GM’s U.S. light-vehicle sales grew 1.8 percent in the July-September quarter to 652,002. The Detroit-based automaker’s U.S. market share this year through September fell to 18.1 percent from 20 percent, according to Autodata.

Toyota earlier this year said it expected sales in 2012 to top its previous record -- 9.37 million units in 2007 -- by about 4 percent and that it would produce a record 10.05 million units.

GM, which ceded its lead to Toyota in global auto sales in 2008, regained the top ranking last year after Toyota’s production was hobbled by natural disasters in Japan and Thailand.

Volkswagen AG raised its global deliveries 13 percent to 2.3 million in the most recent quarter, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company said this week. Volkswagen group sales, including Porsche AG, grew 11 percent to 6.9 million this year through September. Excluding heavy trucks, VW vehicle sales rose 9.7 percent to 6.71 percent, according to company statement.

China Dispute

Japan’s purchase last month of East China Sea islands, called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, sparked violent demonstrations in China that disrupted production for Japanese businesses and dented demand for their goods.

In Europe, sales of Toyota and Lexus cars rose 13 percent to 206,643 units in the third quarter, led by a boost in deliveries of gasoline and hybrid versions of Yaris compacts, the company said Oct. 9.

By comparison, industrywide sales shrank 9.2 percent to 2.83 million units last quarter, according to the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

GM declined 1.5 percent to $23.28 at the close yesterday in New York. Toyota’s American depositary receipts fell 1.4 percent to $77.36.

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