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Toyota falls behind VW in world’s biggest automaker race

Toyota falls behind VW in world’s biggest automaker race

TOKYO: Toyota is in danger of losing its crown as the world’s biggest automaker this year as sales fall behind those of German rival Volkswagen, new figures showed on Thursday.

The Japanese giant, which has held the title for four years running, was outsold by Volkswagen in the first half of 2016, as key North American sales fell and disaster-linked factory stoppages hit production.

The Camry and Prius maker sold 4.99 million vehicles in the six months through June, edging down from a year earlier.

Volkswagen sold 5.12m vehicles globally in the same period, also ahead of third-placed General Motors which moved 4.76m vehicles.

The German automaker had pulled ahead of Toyota in the first half of 2015 as well, until a massive emissions cheating scandal dented sales.

This year, Toyota saw first-half unit sales fall in North America — a key market — while US sales of its popular Prius hybrid fell by one-quarter.

The company was also hit by plant shutdowns linked to deadly earthquakes in Japan earlier this year.

Toyota previously warned that its annual net profit will fall as a stronger yen, and a slowdown in Chinese growth and other emerging markets, dent its bottom line.

Toyota, among other major automakers, has also been struggling to recover a reputation for safety after the recall of millions of cars around the world for various problems, including a deadly exploding air bag crisis at supplier Takata.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2016

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