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TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota held onto its status as the world's top-selling automaker in the first quarter of this year, although the three-way race with General Motors and Volkswagen is proving tight, as The Japanese automaker's sales fall in China and Japan.

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

Toyota's first quarter sales declined 2.2 percent from a year earlier, while those for GM were up 3.6 percent and Volkswagen's jumped 5.1 percent.

Toyota's performance has been driving shares up. Toyota's (TM) American-Depository-Receipts (ADRs) are trading up over 1% at $114.00. Toyota's ADRs are up from its 52-week low of $72.04. That performance is well above shre performance of Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen.

GM's quarterly results were within about 69,000 vehicles of Toyota's.

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 No. 1 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.

The end of subsidies for green vehicles in Japan hurt Toyota sales in its home market. Such incentives had previously helped boost sales of its popular hybrid models.

Check out AOL Autos' Top Green Cars of 2013

Toyota's quarterly vehicle sales were down 13 percent in China and down 15 percent in Japan, compared to the same period last year.

Toyota is roaring back in North America, where sales rose 7 percent, as well as in many Asian nations, where it is relatively dominant.

Its stumble in China is a sore point as both GM and Volkswagen are gaining ground in that market, the world's largest, where potential for growth remains vast. The Chinese market is also crucial amid languishing sales in Europe, a far less important market for Toyota.

Last year, Toyota sold 9.7 million cars and trucks worldwide to beat GM's 9.29 million and Volkswagen at 9.1 million.

Toyota shrugged off the latest results, echoing its typical past response.

"Rather than pursuing numbers, we try to sell one car at a time, producing good cars. We aren't focused on being No. 1," said company spokeswoman Shino Yamada.

Michael Dunne, an expert on the auto industry in China and president of Dunne & Co., said that Chinese are still buying quite a number of Japanese cars, but he also warned the competition remained intense.

"They must contend with powerful American, German and Korean competitors. In addition, they must find ways to cooperate with their Chinese joint venture partners, which can be difficult duty when the two countries are at odds over territory," he said.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      Now that foreign manufacturers are the sales leaders....look who has the most recalls !
      • 2 Years Ago
      more competition coming from nissan and honda with new hybrid models.
      • 2 Years Ago
      #1 Junk maybe!! #1 in recalls yup you got it!!!!!
      • 2 Years Ago
      First Japan has to show how broke it is for aid from the Unted States, so Toyota sales are down, China wanting in the US car market so lot of trouble with Japanese car makers even if it all just a show. Japan does not want to be #1 in cars. News gets to them at that point and people start feeling sorry for the conquered dealers, Toyota wants to be #1 invisibly, that way they want have to open their shores to American industry starting there, which is illegal in Japan according to good old Douglas MacArthur the governor of Japan who made that law before he jumped into Korea. When are we as Americans gonna take our businesses back from these anti American countries. China shot at us in Korea and I hope everyone knows the feeling of Japan towards us after WWII.
      • 2 Years Ago
      before I looked at the draft of $4291, I have faith ...that...my mother in law woz like they say actualey bringing home money in there spare time from their laptop.. there brothers friend has done this 4 only eighteen months and as of now repayed the loans on their mini mansion and got BMW M3. I went here,,., ................... Zoo80. ℂom