All the tallies from the first quarter of 2013 have been counted around the world, and Toyota has somehow managed to hold on to its title as the world’s largest automaker, if by only a hair.

Toyota sold 2.43 million vehicles through March, followed by General Motors’ 2.36 million and Volkwagen’s 2.27 million sales. Toyota declined 2.2 percent, year over year, while GM’s numbers were up 3.6 percent, and Volkswagen’s rose 5.1 percent. None of the automakers have gained much ground in Europe, although Volkswagen is doing the best there among the world’s Big 3 amid a tenuous recession.

However, China’s economy is booming, with more and more people being able to afford cars. Unfortunately for Toyota, there has been a pretty big anti-Japanese pushback from  the Chinese people, allowing Volkswagen–the country’s top-selling automaker–and General Motors–the country’s runner up–to gain ground on Toyota.

Still, Toyota says it’s not about the sales.

“Rather than pursuing numbers, we try to sell one car at a time, producing good cars. We aren’t focused on being No. 1,” said Toyota spokeswoman Shino Yamada in an interview with the Associated Press.

Before 2008, GM had held the world’s largest automaker title for a few decades. Then there was a recession. Then GM went bankrupt. And then Toyota upped its game, seizing its best opportunity to grow even bigger. Toyota lost the title after the 2011 tsunami crippled its production for a few months, but it has since gained it back. All the while, Volkswagen has been slowly growing its empire, just absorbing Porsche under its roof a few months back. It also has several brands that it does not sell in the U.S.

Each automaker should sell more than 9 million vehicles apiece, barring there’s some cataclysmic financial fallout that happens before the end of 2013. All three automakers have been pushing forward with newer, better products with faster turnaround times. So who’s going to be the winner? You, the consumer.

Source: AP via Washington Post

Chevrolet, GM, Miscellaneous, News, Toyota, Volkswagen

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