Toyota's Global Output, Sales Down

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota's global sales fell 26 percent in the first half of this year as the recession hit auto demand, but troubles at U.S. rival General Motors saw the Japanese automaker retain its world No. 1 spot.

Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it sold 3.56 million vehicles in January through June, beating General Motors Co. by about 10,000 units. GM sold 3.55 million vehicles worldwide in the same period, as growth in the Asia-Pacific region offset a slump in North American sales that led to GM filing for bankruptcy protection last month.

Global production at Toyota fell 40.6 percent to 2.97 million during the six months, largely because of production cuts earlier this year, company spokesman Yuta Kaga said. Toyota's domestic production totaled 1.48 million, down 43.7 percent from a year earlier.

In June, global production at Toyota totaled 636,307 units, down 23.7 percent from a year earlier.

"Although monthly sales and production remained weaker than last year, there are signs of recovery," Kaga said. Booming sales of Prius hybrid cars and other fuel-efficient models have also helped, he said.

Production at Toyota's Japanese rivals also plunged.

Honda Motor Co. said its global production plunged 33.7 percent to 1.32 million in the January-to-June period, including 257,852 units in June. Production at Japan's No. 2 automaker declined 86 percent in Europe and 40 percent in the U.S. during the six-month period.

Nissan Motor Co. saw its global production fall 40 percent to 1.10 million units in January-to-June period. The nation's No. 3 car maker said it global production for June dropped 22.2 percent to 240,827 units.

Sales at Nissan fell 23.2 percent to 1.54 million units worldwide in the first six months, the company said.

Mazda Motor Corp. reported a 45.9 percent decline in its global production in the six-month period to 382,948. Its June global production was down 18.7 percent to 92,377.

At Mitsubishi Motors Corp., global production was down 55.9 percent to 306,264 units, including 57,792 in June, down 47.8 percent from a year before.

Japan has been battling a global slump for months. Recent economic data, however, showed signs that Japanese manufacturers may be gradually recovering.

Japan's exports in June fell by the smallest margin in six months, adding to evidence that global demand is recovering. Shipments from Japan fell 35.7 percent from a year earlier, an improvement from a 40.9 percent decline in May, the Finance Ministry said. Exports have fallen every month since October.

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