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GM closes in on Toyota in global sales

Mon, 10 Aug 2009

General Motors Co. came close to regaining the top spot from Toyota Motor Corp. in a shrinking global auto market during the first half, while No. 3 Volkswagen AG gained ground on both.

GM, which trailed Toyota by more than 274,000 units after the first half of 2008, was behind by about 11,000 units through the first six months of this year. GM's sales fell 21.8 percent vs. Toyota's 26 percent.

Volkswagen closed the gap with Toyota by more than 1 million units by limiting its decline from a year earlier to 5.1 percent, according to a tally by the Automotive News Data Center.

No. 5 Ford, the only U.S. automaker to avoid bankruptcy in the first half, posted the biggest drop among the top 10, down 30.6 percent, as the industry battled a worldwide plunge in demand.

During the first six months, Toyota sold 463,805 more vehicles than VW. In the first half of 2008, Toyota outsold VW by 1.55 million. VW closed the distance with No. 2 GM by 823,503 units.

The top 10 ranking comprises five Asian, three European and two U.S. carmakers.

GM's first-half sales figure includes results from Saturn, Saab, Hummer and Pontiac, brands that the automaker is either in the process of selling or shutting down.

By most tallies, GM held the No. 1 title for almost 80 years before yielding it to Toyota in 2008.

Douglas A. Bolduc contributed to this report.

By Paul McVeigh- Automotive News