DETROIT - Toyota has widened its global sales lead over General Motors after bouncing back from a series of natural disasters.
The company said Friday it sold 7.4 million vehicles globally in the first nine months of this year - 450,000 more than General Motors. While Toyota's sales rose 28 percent in that period, GM's rose 2.5 percent, to 6.95 million cars and light-duty trucks.
Toyota's factories were hobbled by an earthquake and tsunami in early 2011, leaving it short of cars in the U.S. and other regions. But now the company has recovered, and is building and selling more vehicles globally. Germany's Volkswagen AG is also seeing strong global sales.
GM is more concerned with profitable growth than the global sales race, spokesman Jim Cain said. Toyota has made similar statements, but executives concede privately that the crown is a matter of corporate pride for both companies. GM was the top-selling automaker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008.
But Toyota faces a challenge in keeping its lead this year. Sales are falling in China because of a territorial dispute with Japan. Japan nationalized islands in the East China Sea that are also claimed by China and Taiwan.