DETROIT: Japanese automaker Toyota Motor notched its best ever October sales figures in a difficult US market, edging ahead of Ford Motor Company and overturning a three month decline.

Toyota shifted 197,592 vehicles from dealer lots last month, a 4.5% year-on-year increase. Ford sold 195,462 vehicles - a 9.3% fall in sales over the previous October - as it continued to pull out of low-profit sales to car rental companies.

America's housing slump and gasoline price rises have made trading tough for all automakers. California's wildfires emergency also played a part in reducing demand for vehicles during October.

There was bad news from Chrysler Group, which reported a 9% slide in sales compared with last October. The company, acquired by Cerberus Capital Management earlier this year, is to slash up to 12,000 jobs and stem production.

Analysts predict that the US market is likely to remain sluggish until year-end discounting starts in December, although there were some bright spots among the present gloom.

General Motors's sales were up 3% over last October, fuelled by a 6% increase in sales of new trucks and SUVs.

Although car sales were flat, Paul Ballew, GM's executive director of global market and industry analysis, said: "We're feeling pretty good we're able to buck industry trends ... and post sales increases on the retail side as well as total sales."

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff