Toyota to become world's No. 1 car maker

Toyota, hot on the heels of General Motors to become the world's No. 1 automaker, reported a 7.3 percent jump in quarterly profit Tuesday on booming sales in North America and Europe that offset sluggish demand in Japan.

Toyota Motor Corp. recorded group net profit of 426.8 billion yen (US$3.6 billion; EUR 2.8 billion) in the three months ended Dec. 31, up from 397.6 billion yen the same period the previous year, the AP reports.

Quarterly sales climbed 15.2 percent to 6.15 trillion yen (US$51.2 billion; EUR 39.6 billion) from 5.33 trillion yen a year ago, as the remodeled RAV 4 sport utility vehicle and Camry mid-sized sedan sold briskly in North America, and demand was strong for the Yaris compact in Europe, Toyota said in a release.

Toyota, Japan's biggest automaker, has long beaten struggling General Motors Corp. in profitability, but it still trails GM in annual global vehicle production.

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