updated 1/26/2004 3:20:48 AM ET 2004-01-26T08:20:48

Toyota Motor Corp. surpassed Ford Motor Co. of the United States as the world's No. 2 automaker, according to global sales numbers released Monday by the Japanese automaker that confirmed last week's preliminary data.

Toyota confirmed the tally it gave last Friday for worldwide sales for 2003 of 6.78 million vehicles, up 9.9 percent from 6.17 million the previous year.

Last week, Ford said its 2003 sales slipped to 6.72 million vehicles, down 3.6 percent from 6.97 million the year before.

The world's largest automaker remains General Motors Corp. of the United States, which sold 8.6 million vehicles in 2003.

The Ford tally does not include sales for Mazda Motor Corp., a Japanese automaker 33 percent owned by the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker. Adding Mazda sales of about a million vehicles a year will put Ford ahead of Toyota.

Ford's tally includes its brands, Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Aston Martin, Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover. Toyota sales include group companies Hino Motors and Daihatsu Motor Co.

Though Japan's economy remains stuck in a decade-old slump, Toyota is coming off record earnings on strong export sales.

Toyota's American arm said its 2003 sales rose 6.3 percent to more than 1.8 million vehicles _ the company's best performance in its 46-year history.

For the second year in a row and the sixth time in the past seven years, Toyota's Camry was America's best-selling car.

Group profits at Toyota were 944.6 billion yen (US$8.83 billion) for the fiscal year ended in March 2003.

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