GM, Toyota Battle For No. 1 Over A Half-Million Cars

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What’s a few hundred thousand cars between close friends?

According the manufacturers’ respective tallies, General Motors and Toyota ended  2007 nearly tied for honors as the world’s biggest automaker.

General Motors announced this week it sold 9,369,524 cars in 2007. Toyota also reported this week that it sold 9.366 million cars last year,  about 3,000 fewer vehicles than GM.

Toyota has steadily expanded its U.S. demand for small cars, particularly the hybrid market. Its Prius is the best-selling hybrid in the country. Toyota has also done well in the pick-up truck market, where the Tundra was named Truck of the Year by a respected national automotive publication.

A day later, however, the results got a little complicated. Toyota, not GM, was named the world’s largest manufacturer by Automotive News after it lowered GM’s original total from a venture in China.

Automotive News reported more than 516,000 produced by GM’s Wuling joint venture should be excluded, thus propelling Toyota to the top spot.

According to the publication, industry practice dictates that only vehicles from majority-owned subsidiaries should count in global totals.

General Motors owns about one-third of the SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co. that produces the vehicles, while Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. has 50.1 percent ownership.

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