updated 9/25/2006 8:35:52 AM ET 2006-09-25T12:35:52

Toyota Motor Corp., on pace to overtake General Motors to become the world's biggest automaker, said Monday its global production rose 17.3 percent in August, the 22nd straight monthly gain.

Soaring oil prices have proved a boon for Toyota as drivers turn to fuel-efficient cars, including the Prius hybrid, Corolla compact and the midsize Camry, the best-selling model in the U.S. for eight of the last nine years.

The Japanese automaker's total output during the month totaled 622,471 vehicles. Overseas output rose 7 percent to 322,079 vehicles, while domestic production jumped 30.9 percent to 300,392 units.

Last week, Toyota announced an ambitious plan to boost global sales to 9.8 million vehicles in 2008 — even as its troubled U.S. rivals are closing plants. The company did not release an output target.

GM in 2005 sold 9.2 million vehicles worldwide and produced 9.05 million vehicles. Toyota surpassed Ford Motor Co. in terms of vehicle sales in 2003.

Nissan Motor Co., meanwhile, said its global vehicle output fell for an eighth month in August, dropping 8.9 percent to 230,692 vehicles.

Overseas production at Japan's No. 2 automaker fell 5.3 percent to 151,531 vehicles for the 5th straight monthly decrease.

Nissan's output in the United States saw a 3.5 percent decline to 71,078 vehicles. Its domestic output dropped 15.2 percent to 79,161 units, with increased production of the Bluebird Slyphy sedan and Wingroad compact wagon offsetting lower output in other models.

Renault of SA of France owns 44 percent of Nissan, which in turns holds 15 percent in the French automaker.

Honda Motor Co. reported its worldwide production climbed 4.9 percent to 287,005 vehicles, the 13th monthly rise. Overseas output rose 2.1 percent to 196,727 units, largely contributed by a 10.3 percent rise in the rest of Asia. Its domestic production posted an 11.8 percent gain to 90,278 vehicles.

Mazda Motor Corp. said its global production rose 4.3 percent to 90,662 vehicles. Its domestic output rose 7.8 percent to 71,119 units _ the 10th straight rose of higher production on increased production of the CX-7, Mazda5 and Mazda6 models.

Mazda, which is 33 percent owned by Ford, reported its overseas production fell 6.9 percent to 19,543 vehicles, on reduced demand for the Mazda 6 and Atenza models in the United States and China, as well as decreased output of Mazda 3 and Axela models in Taiwan.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said global production fell 9.4 percent to 93,971 vehicles, with a 20.2 percent drop to 46,233 units in its overseas production offsetting a 4.1 percent gain in domestic output, which totaled 47,738 vehicles.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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