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Auto blogWed, 24 Apr 2013 15:29:00 EST
Toyota still holds the title of World's Largest Automaker. The Japanese automaker ceded the claim to General Motors in 2011 following a series of natural and man-made disasters that stifled production in Asia. Production is back up to full speed and, coupled with the introduction of a new Camry midsize sedan, Toyota retook the title in 2012 and has so far been able to keep it by selling 2.43 million vehicles in the first quarter of 2013.
The race is still tight - General Motors reports sales of 2.36 million vehicles, earning it the second spot globally with Volkswagen's 2.27 million sales nabbing the German automaker third place. It's not all smooth sailing for Toyota, either, as the brand's first-quarter figures were down 2.2 percent when compared to last year. GM posted a 3.6-percent gain and VW managed a 5.1-percent gain over the same period.
Sales in China may be a deciding factor as to which automaker performs best in 2013. Toyota's figures were down 13 percent in China. Meanwhile, GM and VW are continuing their upward trajectories in the crucial Chinese market.
Our tiniest Toyota (Scion iQ notwithstanding) is about to get a little French flair. The Japanese automaker announced Thursday that its Toyota Motor Manufacturing France facility would begin building Yaris models destined for North America - specifically, the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. This will mark the first time in history that Toyota has exported vehicles to North America from Europe.
Initially, Toyota will export roughly 25,000 Yaris models to North American markets from France each year. In order to handle this additional production, Toyota Motor Manufacturing France has invested 10 million euro into its French facility.
Despite being somewhat of a snooze-fest (it's a car!), the Yaris carries on in North America with a 106-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, with prices starting at $14,370 for the three-door and $15,395 for the five-door, not including $795 for destination.
UPDATE: Just like that, Toyota has released an official statement confirming its $1.2-million dollar settlement with the US Attorney's Office. Our story has been updated to reflect this development and the automaker's official statement has been added below.
Toyota has reached a settlement over the criminal probe into its unintended acceleration problems, and the outcome is more expensive than first expected. The Japanese automaker has agreed to pay $1.2 billion to close the investigation among other settlement terms. The criminal inquiry focused on whether the company kept information from regulators and how it handled drivers' complaints about the problems, according to the sources.
Between 2009 and 2010, Toyota ended up recalling over 10 million vehicles worldwide over sudden acceleration fears. Fixes include modifying floor mats, gas pedals, and installing brake override software on affected models. In addition, Toyota made the latter standard on all of its new vehicles.