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DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is almost certain to claim the title of world's biggest automaker this year, retaking the top spot from Toyota, which has been hurt by production problems since the Japanese earthquake and still can't escape the shadow of major safety recalls.
The No. 1 title, a morale booster for the winner's employees and managers, would cap GM's remarkable comeback from bankruptcy.
GM's sales are up, mainly in China and the U.S, the world's top two markets. Its cars are better than in the past, especially small ones.
But even though GM came within 30,000 sales of Toyota last year and began strong in 2011, any sales victory this year has more to do with Toyota's problems.
First, a series of big recalls has ballooned to 14 million vehicles worldwide and damaged Toyota's reputation for reliability. That has spurred loyal buyers to look at other brands.
Second, a March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan curbed Toyota's car production. On Friday, Toyota Motor Corp. said its factories worldwide won't return to full production until November or December. That means buyers across the globe may not be able to get the models they want. Already the crisis has cost the company production of 260,000 vehicles.
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