Toyota’s first-quarter surge drives past GM


Toyota Motor Corp. regained its position as the world’s top automaker in the first quarter of 2012, reclaiming the lead from General Motors Co., according to manufacturers’ data.

Toyota sold 2.49 million vehicles in the three months to March 31, ahead of GM’s 2.28 million units and Volkswagen’s 2.16 million.

A spokeswoman for the carmaker, Dion Corbert, cited major hurdles in recent years as the reason it relinquished the lead to GM in 2010.

“We had the (2008 global) financial crisis, quality issues, the (March 2011) earthquake and tsunami, and the Thai floods last year, during which we were not able to produce as many cars as we wanted to,” Corbet said Tuesday.

Toyota became the world’s biggest automaker in 2008, but after slipping to 7.35 million units last year, it was overtaken by both GM, which sold about 9 million vehicles, and VW’s more than 8 million.

Hybrid sales landmark set


Toyota Motor Corp. said global sales of its hybrid electric-gasoline vehicles have topped 4 million units since the first model debuted in 1997, and the popularity of the fuel-efficient cars is continuing to surge.

The automaker’s total hybrid sales exceeded 4 million units as of April 30, doubling the sales tally seen in August 2009.