Toyota on track to surpass GM as No. 1 automaker
Demand for small, fuel-efficient cars drives production
Surging oil prices have prompted drivers to favor fuel-efficient cars, including the Prius hybrid, Corolla compact, and the mid-size Camry, the best-selling model on the US market for eight of the last nine years.
Toyota's total output last month came to 696,594 vehicles, the company reported yesterday. Overseas production climbed 2.8 percent to 340,945 units, while domestic output rose 4.7 percent to 355,649 vehicles.
Earlier this month, the first hybrid version of the Toyota Camry made outside Japan rolled off the assembly line of its Kentucky plant, positioning the Japanese automaker to take an even larger share of the gasoline-electric vehicle market in the United States.
GM in 2005 sold 9.2 million vehicles globally and produced 9.05 million vehicles, compared to Toyota's sales of 8.13 million for that year. The Japanese automaker surpassed
Toyota has said it will boost global sales to 9.8 million vehicles in 2008 -- even as its troubled US rivals are closing plants. Toyota did not release an output target.
Nissan said output in the United States fell 18.9 percent last month from a year ago to 60,600 units, largely due to the changeover of the 2007 Altima model.
Domestic production at Honda rose 2.3 percent to 119,014 units.
Mazda Motor Corp. reported worldwide output posted a 1 percent gain to 106,332 units. Its overseas production rose 1.2 percent to 21,420 vehicles on increased production of the Mazda6 and Premacy models, including a strong demand in China.
Mazda, which is 33 percent owned by Ford, said production in Japan rose 1 percent to 84,912 units -- the 11th straight month of higher domestic production.