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Toyota confirms loss of No. 1 carmaker spot
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 25, 2012


Toyota Motor confirmed Wednesday that its world group sales fell below the eight million mark in 2011, losing the firm its number one spot in the global carmakers' league.

Total sales were 7.95 million units worldwide, down six percent, Toyota said, after supply chains were disrupted by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as flooding in Thailand. It also suffered from the high yen.

The Japanese company had been the world's biggest carmaker since 2008 and sold 8.42 million vehicles in 2010.

But its 2011 figure leaves US giant General Motors, on 9.03 million sales, in top spot after it emerged from bankruptcy, with Germany's Volkswagen in second place on 8.16 million vehicles.

Toyota's result was also below the 8.03 million total sales recorded by an alliance between France's Renault, Japanese firm Nissan, and Avtovaz of Russia.

Toyota's latest yearly sales figure appeared without comment at the bottom of a company press release announcing that it was increasing its 2012 sales target within Japan by 100,000 vehicles.

Toyota officials have previously said their focus was on producing quality vehicles, and that "to be first is important, but that's not the most important thing for us".

Toyota brand sales, which include Lexus vehicles, were down six percent in 2011, subsidiary Daihatsu was down seven percent, while Hino, a smaller corporate unit, saw sales rise 14 percent last year.

The firm now expects to sell a total of 8.58 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles worldwide in 2012, it said, an increase of 21 percent on 2011.

The 100,000 boost in the Japan sales forecast to 1.63 million vehicles comes after the government extended tax breaks for environmentally friendly vehicles.

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Fold-up car of the future unveiled at EU
Brussels (AFP) Jan 24, 2012
A tiny revolutionary fold-up car designed in Spain's Basque country as the answer to urban stress and pollution was unveiled Tuesday before hitting European cities in 2013. The "Hiriko", the Basque word for "urban", is an electric two-seater with no doors whose motor is located in the wheels and which folds up like a child's collapsible buggy, or stroller, for easy parking. Dreamt up by ... read more


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