TOKYO: Toyota Motor has consolidated its current position at the head of the global auto sales league, stretching its lead over General Motors.

The Japanese giant's first-half sales were 2.2% higher than in the year earlier period, while the US company saw its sales slide by three percent.

However, Toyota is expected to slightly lower its global targets for the rest of 2008, the result of a slump in demand in the US, western Europe and Japan. Demand, in the emerging BRIC markets, on the other hand, continues to grow.

GM revealed a one-fifth drop in North American sales during the second quarter, and is accelerating the closure of four pick-up truck and SUV assembly plants in the US, Canada and Mexico.

  • Meantime, the European Commission has given the green light to the acquisition of Volkswagen by sports car maker Porsche.

    Anti-trust watchdogs have concluded that such a deal "would not significantly impede effective competition".

    They added: "The commission's examination of the transaction showed that horizontal overlaps between Volkswagen and Porsche are limited and that, for all car segments concerned, Porsche will continue to face several strong, effective competitors."

    The Stuttgart-based company, the world's most profitable car maker, signalled in March its intent to take control of Europe's biggest automaker.

    VW's workers and its home state of Lower Saxony, which owns 20% of the business, are resisting Porsche's moves.

  • Data sourced from Financial Times Online and; additional content by WARC staff