Oh, what a feel­ing . . . kind of

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Paul Gover -

TOY­OTA is now the world’s largest car­maker — or is it still sec­ond? De­pend­ing on what fig­ures you look at, it ei­ther over­took Gen­eral Mo­tors for global sales lead­er­ship last year or fin­ished about 50,000 be­hind.

Toy­ota is not claim­ing No.1, and its lo­cal sales chief Dave But­tner has not cracked any cham­pagne to cel­e­brate.

‘‘We be­lieve we were sec­ond. It de­pends on how you com­pile the fig­ures, but the of­fi­cial Toy­ota num­bers have us be­hind Gen­eral Mo­tors,’’ But­tner says.

If you add the pro­duc­tion and sales to­tals of the com­plete Toy­ota group, which in­cludes Dai­hatsu and Hino, it is easy to get to a num­ber that trumps GM.

That is what Au­to­mo­tive News, a re­spected in­de­pen­dent pub­li­ca­tion in the US, has done. It also in­cluded the CKD (com­pletely knocked down) sets ex­ported by var­i­ous brands.

But it has not amal­ga­mated Nis­san and Re­nault, which would put the French-Ja­panese al­liance in fifth place.

The Au­to­mo­tive News to­tals have Toy­ota at No.1 with 9.3 mil­lion ve­hi­cles sold last year, ahead of GM at 8.9 mil­lion and Volk­swa­gen third at six mil­lion.

Ford, which has been third for decades, slipped to fourth.

Us­ing the US num­bers, the big­gest win­ner is the Hyundai-Kia group at fifth. It has made a rapid rise from 11th in 1999.

Hyundai-Kia got a boost when the two com­pa­nies be­came one, but it still shows the chang­ing pat­tern in global suc­cess.

Things have changed again over the past three months. A huge down­turn in US sales has hit Chrysler, Ford and GM. Even Toy­ota has seen num­bers go­ing back­wards, though not enough to stop it tak­ing world­wide No.1— in ev­ery­one’s fig­ures— by the end of this year.

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