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Business

Toyota sells more cars than any of its rivals

Japanese carmaker Toyota is on course to become the world's top vehicle seller this year. The company has so far sold more units than its rivals despite a dent in business with China caused by a political dispute.

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Worker checking cars at a Toyota assembly line

Automaker Toyota of Japan on Monday nudged up its full-year net profit forecast to $9.7 billion (7.55 billion euros), up 2.6 percent from its previous guidance.

The company sold a total of 7.4 million vehicles worldwide between January and September, beating its strongest rivals for the top selling carmaker trophy, General Motors (GM) and Volkswagen.

Toyota's performance stunned many analysts who still believed the firm hadn't done its homework yet.

"It's tough for Toyota to dominate the market again with its current product line-up," IHS Automotive expert Masatoshi Nishimoto said in a statement. "It needs to improve overall product attractiveness, including design and ride quality."

Territorial dispute a headache

The Japanese automaker said it was hoping to sell 8.75 million vehicles globally in the current fiscal year, 2 million units alone in the United States, the company's most important market.

Toyota acknowledged that it was suffering under a Sino-Japanese spat over ownership of a number of East China Sea islets. It said the tensions at hand and a slowing economy in China had cost the firm sales of some 200,000 cars.

Nonetheless, Toyota found room to revise its forecast upwards as it is less dependent on China than many of its domestic rivals. China accounts for 12 percent of Toyota's sales, compared to Nissan's 27 percent and Honda's 20 percent.

hg/kms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)