Toyota Motor said April 23 it had sold about 1.76 million vehicles worldwide in the first quarter of 2009, staying ahead of Germany's Volkswagen in the race to be this year's top selling automaker.
Toyota, which ended General Motors' 77-year reign as world number one in 2008, suffered a 26.7% drop in sales in the three months through March from a year earlier, company spokesman Paul Nolasco said. The figures include its subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd.
But Toyota managed to easily keep its lead over Volkswagen, Europe's biggest carmaker, which on April 23 reported global sales of 1.35 million vehicles in the first quarter, down 15.7% from a year earlier.
Toyota, like other automakers, has been hit hard by the global economic downturn and has forecast its first ever loss for the financial year which ended last month.
The group's global production plunged 45% in the first quarter of 2009 from a year earlier to about 1.395 million vehicles.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009