TOKYO (Reuters) - General Motors Corp (GM.N) appears to have inched past Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) in global sales so far this year as U.S. sales at the Japanese carmaker slipped last quarter, but some counts may leave Toyota in pole position.
Toyota, the world’s most valuable automaker worth $190 billion — or nine times as much as GM — said on Monday its consolidated global sales grew 7 percent in January-September to 7.05 million vehicles.
That was a shade short of GM’s 7.06 million vehicles, which marked a 2 percent rise for the same period.
But GM’s tally includes sales of vehicles built at a joint venture in China in which it holds a minority stake, cars that some industry watchers exclude.
Automotive News, a leading industry publication, said Toyota overtook its U.S. rival as the world’s largest automaker last year.
The publication excluded 420,140 vehicles sold at the China venture, which is majority held by SAIC Motor Corp (600104.SS), from GM’s sales.
Toyota’s tally includes sales at minivehicle unit Daihatsu Motor Co 7262.T and truck maker Hino Motors Ltd (7205.T), in which Toyota holds stakes of more than 50 percent.
GM said last week its global sales grew 4 percent to a record 2.38 million vehicles in the third quarter, although sales in North America fell 6 percent.
America’s biggest carmaker, which lost more than $12 billion in the past two years, is in the middle of a sweeping restructuring that includes cutting more than 34,000 jobs and closing 12 plants in North America.
Toyota is on its way to another year of record profits, aided by healthy sales growth in Europe, China and many emerging markets.