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Toyota retains global auto crown in 2013, sees strong 2014

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp retained its rank as the world's best-selling automaker last year, beating out rivals General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG for the second year in a row as the weak yen underpinned sales overseas.

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Toyota sales rose 2 percent in 2013 to 9.98 million vehicles, the company said in a statement on Thursday. With the weaker Japanese currency still helping it compete against global rivals, Toyota expects annual group sales to top 10 million vehicles for the first time this year.

The 2014 target of 10.32 million vehicles, including sales from affiliated companies Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd., would represent growth of 4 percent from last year. The Toyota group plans to manufacture 10.43 million vehicles globally this year, up 3 percent year-on-year.

GM sold 9.71 million vehicles last year, up 4 percent year-on-year, while Volkswagen said its sales rose around 5 percent to more than 9.7 million vehicles. The German automaker has pledged to surpass GM and Toyota to become the world's largest automaker by 2018.

Toyota regained the global sales crown in 2012, after slipping to third place behind GM and Volkswagen in 2011, following natural disasters in Japan and Thailand. Previously, Toyota had been on top from 2008 through 2010.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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