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Toyota becomes world's No 2 manufacturer

Toyota has overtaken Ford by achieving the world's second biggest vehicle sales volume – 6.78 million units, 10% up on 2002 – against Ford's 6.72m units last year. Toyota also displaced Chrysler in 2003 as the third largest supplier of vehicles to the US market.

The firm's success contributed to a 40% rise in Japan's trade surplus in December, as Japanese exports exceeded imports by £5.7bn, marking a six successive month of trade balance increases. Of Toyota's total output, 4.24m units were produced in Japan and 2.58m in its overseas plants.

There are some qualifications to Toyota's status as the global automotive No.2 – Toyota's figures include figures from Lexus and Scion and also from affiliates Daihatsu and the heavy truck maker Hino, without which Toyota's 2003 output would have been 7.8% up, to 6.078m - while the volume quoted for Ford include its wholly-owned PAG brands' sales, but not its one-third share of Mazda's approx. 1m global sales in 2003.

Still the world's biggest vehicle manufacturer, GM's 2003 total output was 8.59 million units.

Toyota now has both global and US market shares of approx 11%, and is targeting a 50% increase in share within the coming 10 years. Its domestic Japanese rival Honda produced 2.968m units in 2003, while Nissan produced over 2.957m.

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