Toyota back on top worldwide

| Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, 5:58 p.m.

DETROIT — Toyota has once again dethroned General Motors as the world's top-selling automaker.

The Japanese company sold 9.7 million cars and trucks worldwide in 2012, although it's still counting. GM sold 9.29 million.

Both companies experienced higher sales, but Toyota's growth was far larger as it rolled out new versions of popular models.

GM was the top-selling carmaker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008. But GM retook the sales crown in 2011 when Toyota's factories were slowed by an earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Toyota's comeback from the earthquake, and flooding in Thailand, are only part of the story, says Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive, a Detroit-area industry forecasting firm. The company has freshened its midsize sedan, the Camry, the top-selling car in the United States.

GM's global sales rose 2.9 percent last year, it announced Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Toyota sales rose 22 percent.

GM is contending with a stronger Volkswagen. It narrowly edged out the fast-growing German company for second place in 2012. VW sold a record 9.1 million vehicles.

Volkswagen, with big sellers such as the Passat midsize sedan and Jetta compact, closed in on GM with an 11 percent sales increase across the globe.

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