By Yoko Kubota
TOKYO Oct 28 Toyota Motor Corp kept
its lead over rivals General Motors Co and Volkswagen AG
this year, January-September global sales figures
showed, as the Japanese carmaker closes in on a record annual
Toyota's groupwide sales totalled around 7.412 million
vehicles, up 0.1 percent from the same period a year ago, the
company said on Monday, as strong sales in the United States
offset slowdowns in Thailand and China.
Toyota's groupwide total includes sales at affiliates
Daihatsu Motor Co Ltd and Hino Motors Ltd.
General Motors sold 7.25 million vehicles during the same
January to September period, up 4.6 percent year-on-year, while
Volkswagen rose 4.8 percent to 7.03 million vehicles, according
to figures released earlier this month.
Volkswagen's sales figure however, excludes its Scania and
MAN brands. Scania sold around 56,220 vehicles up to September.
Scania and MAN brands typically account for a combined 200,000
vehicles in a full year.
Toyota regained the global sales crown in 2012 after
slipping to third place behind GM and Volkswagen in 2011,
following natural disasters in Japan and Thailand. Previously,
it had been on top from 2008 through 2010.
Analysts expect Toyota to post 2.4 trillion yen ($24.7
billion) in operating profit for the year ending March 2014,
more than the record 2.27 trillion yen it hit in the year ended
March 2008, as the weaker yen makes exports profitable.
For the full year, Toyota, together with Daihatsu and Hino,
expects to sell 9.96 million vehicles, up 2 percent from 2012.
Toyota, which will announce its July-September results on
Nov. 6, is expected to post an operating profit of 616.5 billion
yen, nearly double what it posted a year ago.
In September, Toyota's monthly groupwide global vehicle
sales rose 6.3 percent from a year ago to 832,000 vehicles.
Toyota said September exports to the United States from
Japan rose 9 percent from a year ago to around 53,130 vehicles
as U.S. demands for the RAV4 and Lexus IS are strong.
In Thailand, Toyota's biggest market in Southeast Asia,
sales are slowing after the end of the government's first-car
initiative. September sales dropped about 33 percent
year-on-year to 31,000 vehicles, while July-September quarterly
sales fell 30 percent to 96,000 vehicles.