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Toyota Is World's Largest Automaker - Again

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On: Thu, May 17, 2012 at 5:01PM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota Is World's Largest Automaker - Again

If you've never followed the world's largest automaker race, it's a thrilling contest in which a very select few automakers make goals of overtaking their competitors, do so for a while and then relinquish the title to one of the other few brands large and wealthy enough to take the crown. It's must see TV, and the latest episode stars Toyota taking back the top spot from General Motors.

GM took the "world's largest automaker" honors from Toyota last year, after Toyota spent three years at the helm. Toyota took it back in the first quarter of this year, selling 2.49 million autos to global consumers, compared to GM's 2.28. Volkswagen, which has vowed to take the title by 2018, came in third with 2.16 sales.

As the Detroit Free Press points out, it's mostly a symbolic title. Car companies can still be quite profitable without selling the most cars in the world. In fact, despite its loss in the silly race, GM posted a $1 billion profit in the first quarter.

To demonstrate just how meaningless the race really is, GM held the spot for77 years, losing it in 2008 to Toyota. Toyota held it from 2008 to 2010 before losing it back to GM. So far, it looks like Toyota could take it from GM. Or maybe GM will hold onto it. Someday, maybe Volkswagen, which is usually in the top three, will take it from GM/Toyota. So it's basically a matter of Toyota, GM and, maybe, Volkswagen - not exactly an open field.

Of course, the year is still young, so it's not too late for GM to be the reigning champ of 2012. Last year, it had a comfortable lead over both Volkswagen and Toyota, selling 9.03 million compared to 8.16 million for VW and 7.9 million for Toyota. It didn't hurt that Toyota was dealing with natural disaster production problems for much of the year, however, so this year will likely play out differently, as the first quarter results are showing.


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