Toyota Motor group worldwide vehicle sales for the first half of 2009 fell 26% year on year to about 3,564,000 units, but it still beat General Motors to remain the largest automaker - the US rival shifted about 3,552,700 units during the same period.

Group production worldwide was down 23.7% to 636,307 units last month. Core brand Toyota was off 23.8% to 565,541. Year to date volume was off 40.6% to 2,967,964 with Toyota down 43.1% to 2,539,673.

Year to date production outside Japan was down 37% to 1,490,761 vehicles (Toyota: 1,438,652; -37.6%) and down 17% to 322,492 last month (Toyota: -16.6%; 314,370).

June exports from Japan fell almost 40% to 145,492 (Toyota: 137,476; -37.9%). Year to date shipments were down almost 60% to 588,397 (Toyota: 550,413; -59.4%).

Toyota's half year car sales in Japan dropped 26.6% to 593,173 units but there were signs of easing as June volume was off 11.4% to 112,591 units compared with the 20%-plus decline in May.

Toyota said its domestic market share excluding minicars was down 0.1% to 45.5% for the first half.