Japan's Toyota Motor is now the world's second largest auto maker by vehicle sales, having overtaken Ford Motor Company in the third quarter.

Toyota sold 1.57 million units across the globe in the three months to September, some 166,000 more than Ford. The US giant is still ahead over the first nine months of 2003, but Toyota could seize second place over the full year if Ford reduces production as expected in Q4.

Toyota remains some way behind market leader General Motors, which sold 6.4m vehicles around the world in Q3. However, in terms of profitability, the Japanese group is already the world's number one, having posted record operating earnings of ¥768 billion ($7.1bn; €6.1bn; £4.2bn) for its fiscal first half [WAMN: 06-Nov-03].

In August, Toyota's stateside business outsold Chrysler Group, knocking one of the 'big three' US carmakers into fourth place for the first time. Even though it has not managed to retain that lead, the Japanese company's market capitalisation is still higher than that of the Detroit trio combined.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff