Asian automakers continue to outpace the rest of the world’s vehicle manufacturers in terms of growth, reports Automotive News Europe.
The accelerating rise of Japanese, Korean and other Asian auto companies is highlighted clearly in a new ranking of the world’s largest automakers, based on unit sales in 2003.

The ranking is compiled by the Automotive News Data Center. The figures show that Toyota passed Ford Motor Co. to become the world’s second biggest automaker after General Motors.

Powered by strong sales of the Mazda6 worldwide and proving once again the value of a hit product, Mazda enjoyed a standout year. Mazda’s 10.7-percent rise to 1,068,400 was the largest gain of the world’s top 15 automakers. Toyota caused the biggest change in the rankings as its sales rose 10.0 percent to 6,783,463. That propelled it to the No. 2 spot, displacing Ford Motor Co.

Ford’s sales fell 4.1 percent to 6,541,600.  After Toyota passing Ford, the next gain in the rankings was Nissan overtaking Honda to take the No. 8 spot. Nissan’s sales jumped 8.5 percent to 2,968,357. Europe’s fastest-growing automaker was Porsche. Its sales rose 21.2 percent to 66.803
Among the volume European manufacturers, sales rose 0.4 percent at Volkswagen, but fell 4.1 percent at DaimlerChrysler. Sales rose 0.6 percent at PSA/Peugeot-Citroen but fell 0.6 percent at Renault. Fiat Auto’s sales fell 6.4 percent to 1,989,921.Fiat’s sales slide was not enough to alter its ranking. It remained No. 11 on the list.