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Toyota Beats GM in Global Production

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[January 28, 2008]  TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota may have fallen short of General Motors in global vehicle sales last year, but it's beaten its U.S. rival in another measure -- global vehicle production.

In the latest neck-and-neck numbers race between the world's top two automakers, Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it had made a record 9,497,754 vehicles worldwide in 2007, up 5.3 percent from the previous year.

That's about 213,000 more automobiles than the 9.284 million that GM made last year.

Honda and other major Japanese automakers also reported strong annual output gains. Only Mazda said its production dropped.

Toyota's earlier, less precise production estimate for 2007 was 9.51 million. Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco in Tokyo said there was no special reason for the change from the estimate.

By sales, however, General Motors Corp. just barely retained its crown over Toyota, selling 9,369,524 vehicles around the world, up 3 percent from the previous year, and about 3,000 vehicles more than Toyota.

Toyota on Friday updated its sales tally for last year with additional three digits at 9,366,418. In number released last week, Toyota said it sold 9.366 million vehicles last year globally, up 6 percent from 2006 -- allowing GM to keep its title of world's No. 1 automaker for the 77th year.

All big manufacturers are vying for sales in the U.S., Europe and other established markets but also new markets, including India and China.

Toyota said production in Japan marked its sixth straight year of gains for a record in 2007. Exports and overseas production also surged, it said.

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Toyota has been racking up growth recently, riding on its reputation for quality and good mileage. Soaring gas prices are making smaller cars that are Toyota's forte increasingly in demand.

Toyota has enjoyed a green-car image because of the fashionability of its Prius gas-electric hybrid, which cuts down on global warming emissions.

Among other Japanese automakers, Honda Motor Co. said its global production grew 7.7 percent to a record 3.91 million vehicles last year, the 11th straight year of growth. Declines in Japan production were more than offset by growth in North America, Europe and China, the Tokyo manufacturer said.

Nissan Motor Co., which has a partnership with Renault SA of France, chalked up a 6.2 percent jump in global production to 3.43 million vehicles last year on strong demand for the Infiniti G35 and G37 luxury models and Rogue crossover vehicle. Especially solid was Nissan's overseas production, soaring 12.9 percent on year.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s global production totaled 1.41 million last year, up 7.5 percent from the previous year.

Mazda Motor Corp., which is 33.4 percent owned by U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co., was an exception with production declining 1.9 percent to 1.29 million vehicles around the world.

[Associated Press; By YURI KAGEYAMA]

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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