Toyota becomes world's second largest car company

Toyota has overtaken the Ford Motor Company to become the world's second biggest car seller. In 2003 the Japanese firm sold a total of 6.78m cars while Ford sold 6.72m. The figures do not include the sales of Mazdas (of which Ford owns 33%). If Mazda is included Ford goes ahead again. Both however are still lagging behind General Motors, which has led the industry for the last 70 years.

Toyota's improvement is due to rapid increases in sales in the US and in Asia. The company now has an 11% share of the world's markets and is aiming to reach 15% in the course of the next 10 years.

In terms of market capitalization Toyota's shares are worth four times those of Ford, with the company now valued at $120bn.

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