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VW beats Toyota as world's biggest automaker

VW beats Toyota as world's biggest automaker
German automaker Volkswagen surpassed Toyota in global sales numbers between January and June. (Damian Dovarganes / AP)

Volkswagen AG clinched the top spot in global auto sales for the first half of 2015 by selling 5.04 million vehicles, enough to overtake longtime standout Toyota Motor Corp.

Toyota sold 5.02 million vehicles, a decrease of 1.5%, in the first six months of the year. In a statement Tuesday, the company said production in Japan decreased, and sales in the automaker's home country were down for the first time in two years. Exports to Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East also decreased.

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General Motors Co. came in third with 4.86 million vehicles sold, down 1.2% from the same period a year ago.

VW said earlier this month that sales grew  in the European market, with a total of 2.11 million vehicles sold. Sales in North America rose 6% to 451,200 cars, 295,000 of which were in the U.S.

Sales in China, VW's largest single market, decreased by 3.9% to 1.74 million vehicles.

Last year Toyota narrowly edged out VW as the world's largest automaker for the third consecutive year. In 2014, Toyota sold 10.23 million vehicles compared to VW's 10.14 million.

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