Toyota 'world's top carmaker' in first half of 2012

Toyota Motor has returned to the top of the global carmakers' league, Japanese media reported on Thursday, after the firm said it had sold almost five million vehicles in the first half of the year.

The group, whose brands also include Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino, sold a record 4.97 millions units worldwide in the period, up nearly 34 percent from the same period last year, according to company figures.

That vaulted Toyota ahead of rivals General Motors and Volkswagen, which sold 4.67 million and 4.45 million units in the first half respectively, local media said.

Toyota last year lost the title of world's biggest carmaker -- a spot it had held between 2008 and 2010 -- following a slump in production and sales owing to Japan's March 11 quake-tsunami disaster, floods in Thailand and the strong yen.

General Motors, with about 9 million vehicles sold last year, was the world's biggest carmaker followed by Germany's Volkswagen with more than 8 million vehicles sold. Toyota sold 7.95 million vehicles.

For all of 2012, Toyota said it expected to sell 9.58 millions units worldwide, but it was uncertain whether it could retain the global top spot for the full year.

Toyota shares were up 1.38 percent at 2,856 yen in Thursday afternoon trade.

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