Toyota still world’s top in global vehicle sales

Toyota still world’s top in global vehicle sales

TOKYO/PARIS/FRANKFURT - The Associated Press
Toyota still world’s top in global vehicle sales

At a time European car sales have slumped as governments cut spending, Toyota has said it sold 2.43 million vehicles worldwide in the first three months. AP photo

Toyota is still the world’s top automaker in global vehicle sales after the first quarter of this year amid slumping auto sales in recession-bound Europe as German Daimler and French Citroen’s first quarter financial performances proved.

Toyota Motor reported yesterday it sold 2.43 million vehicles during the January-March period, outpacing U.S. automaker General Motors at 2.36 million vehicles and Volkswagen AG of Germany at 2.27 million vehicles.

The Japanese maker of the Prius hybrid and Camry sedan reclaimed its crown as world’s top automaker last year, after losing it to GM a year earlier, when it was battered by the tsunami and quake disasters in northeastern Japan.

GM had been at the top seat for seven decades before losing that title to Toyota in 2008.

Toyota has been hit by a resurgence of anti-Japanese sentiment in China because of a territorial dispute over tiny islands, and some Chinese are worried about being seen driving a Japanese car. The company says the situation is slowly improving but getting back to solid growth again is likely to take some time.

Lower sales by Europeans

Meanwhile, Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker, said yesterday its net profit skidded sharply lower in the first three months of the current year as a result of the “difficult market environment”.

 VW said in a statement that its net profit slumped by 38.2 percent to 1.946 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in the period from January to March.

The other giant German auto-maker Daimler said yesterday its first-quarter earnings down 60 percent. The company warned that earnings for all of this year would be worse than last year.

Net profit for the car-maker fell to 564 million euros ($732.6 million) from 1.42 billion euros in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue fell 3 percent to 26.1 billion euros. Profits fell short of the 810 million euros expected by analysts surveyed by financial information provider FactSet.

CEO Dieter Zetsche said that “many markets developed worse than expected for economic reasons, especially in Western Europe. “ French Peugeot Citroen also says crumbling automobile markets across Europe are behind a steep drop in its first quarter sales.

The parent company of Peugeot and Citroen reported a 10.3 percent drop in sales at its automobile division to 8.72 billion euros ($11.33 billion) for the January to March period, down from 9.72 billion euros a year earlier.
The Paris-based carmaker is battling back from last year’s record 5 billion euros loss as Europe’s cratering car market combined with rising raw material prices to hammer earnings.

European car sales have slumped as governments cut spending to deal with problems with too much debt, sending growth down and unemployment up. The economic fallout is worst in indebted countries in southern Europe. But sales have also fallen in better-off Germany, home market for Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand. European auto sales fell 9.8 percent in March, the 18 monthly drop in a row, measured on a year on year basis, according to the European car industry association ACEA. Consumers are reluctant or unable to spend, as governments cut spending to deal with their debt problems.