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Toyota topples GM

Toyota took the leadership with a total of 2.38 million cars and trucks sold worldwide, whereas GM sold 2.26 million vehicles for the same period. It is the first time GM has been overtaken in sales since 1931.

Toyota's high sales can partly be attributed to petrol prices, particularly the sales in the US, with a continued demand for smaller, more fuel efficient cars. The Prius hybrid has also played a big role in this.

It's also believed that later this month the Japanese carmaker will report a seventh consecutive year of record profits.

Toyota's success comes as the Detroit-based manufacturers, including GM, Ford and Chrysler, lost money last year and are closing plants and cutting jobs.

But Toyota's future is looking much brighter, with an $11.7 billion profit last year. Japanese analysts expect the company to exceed that figure this year.