Saturday November 28th, 2015 10:27PM

Toyota top-selling automaker despite China slump

By The Associated Press
TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota shrugged off China sales woes to stay the world's top selling automaker for the first half of this year, outpacing U.S. rival General Motors Co., which boasted such bragging rights for seven decades until 2008.

Toyota Motor Corp. sold 4.91 million cars and trucks around the world for the January-June period, down 1.2 percent from the previous year, according to numbers it released Friday.

GM said earlier this month it sold 4.85 million vehicles worldwide in the six months, growing almost 4 percent as it gained U.S. sales faster than Toyota. For the second quarter alone, GM had a slight edge, outselling Toyota by about 10,000 vehicles.

GM was the top-selling automaker for seven decades before losing that title to the Japanese automaker in 2008. GM retook the spot in 2011, when Toyota's plants were slowed by an earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan that wiped out parts suppliers.

Toyota has since recovered and was at the top again last year even as sales in China were hurt by anti-Japanese sentiment that flared over a territorial dispute, setting off boycotts and riots. The deep sales slump that started in the second half of last year has waned in the past few months and Japanese automakers might be poised to start growing again in China.

Toyota stayed ahead of GM in the first half of 2013 because of solid sales in other regions. The maker of the Prius hybrid and Camry sedan also did better than expected in Japan, where the auto market has been stagnant for years.

Volkswagen AG of Germany, which includes in its group Audi, Porsche and other brands, trailed Toyota and GM in the global race, selling 4.7 million vehicles during the first half of this year.

Yet it is posting strong growth in countries such as China, offsetting a bleak European market, and it is also determined to become No. 1.

One key difference between Toyota and the two other automakers is that it manufactures heavy trucks. GM and Volkswagen have light trucks but no heavy trucks in their lineup.

Excluding sales of 78,000 trucks for Toyota's Hino Motors, Toyota's global vehicle sales totaled about 4.83 million for the first half, according to Toyota.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said sales were not the only measure of excellence, and profitability, quality of workers and productivity were also significant.

"What truly defines being No. 1 is an eternal pursuit for which there is never an answer," he told reporters this week.

GM officials also say they don't care who wins the global sales race. But the numbers tend to reflect company momentum, and the outcome is good for morale not only for employees but the wide range of industries that auto manufacturing supports in each nation.

Yasuaki Iwamoto, auto analyst at Okasan Securities Co. in Tokyo, believes Toyota's popularity in Southeast Asia will continue to boost vehicle sales numbers in coming months. And that is a key plus for a manufacturer.

"The merit of scale is not just about numbers and is likely to lead to cost cuts," he said in a report.

At a recent opening of a Toyota training facility, Keiji Furuya, a lawmaker and government minister, told the crowd he was proud of Toyota's achievements.

"Toyota is the No. 1 automaker in the world. And it is important it stays the No. 1 automaker in the world," he said.

Tatsuo Yoshida, auto analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co., expects Toyota, GM and Volkswagen to be switching places at the top in coming years as all three can count on growth in different global markets.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 1 year ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Standoff at Planned Parenthood ends with suspect's arrest; 3 killed, 9 wounded
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A gunman who opened fire inside a Planned Parenthood clinic was arrested Friday after engaging in gun battles with authorities during an hourslong standoff that killed t...
1:13AM ( 21 hours ago )
White House undergoes Thanksgiving Day lockdown after man draped in American flag jumps fence
WASHINGTON (AP) — A man draped in an American flag climbed over the fence at the White House on Thursday, prompting a lockdown as the first family celebrated Thanksgiving.The man was immediately appre...
10:11PM ( 2 days ago )
Obama grants reprieve to turkeys 'Honest' and 'Abe' during White House ceremony
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama spared two turkeys named for one of the nation's most admired presidents, continuing a White House tradition that provides a refreshing sense of amusement and...
9:18PM ( 3 days ago )
The Latest: UN Security Council strongly condemns 'horrifying' attack in Mali, urges probe
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The latest on the attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. (All times local):___4:55 a.m.The U.N. Security Council is condemning "the horrifying terrorist attack" at the...
10:58PM ( 1 week ago )
World leaders vow vigorous response to Paris terror spree, but little indication of next steps
ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — World leaders vowed a vigorous response to the Islamic State group's terror spree in Paris as they opened a two-day meeting in Turkey on Sunday, with President Barack Obama call...
2:14PM ( 1 week ago )