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DETROIT -- Toyota has dethroned General Motors as the world's top-selling automaker.

The Japanese company says it sold 9.7 million cars and trucks worldwide last year, although it's still counting. GM says it sold 9.29 million.

GM retook the crown in 2011 when Toyota's factories were slowed by an earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The disaster left Toyota dealers with few cars to sell. The company has since recovered.

GM is also contending with a stronger Volkswagen. It narrowly edged out the fast-growing German company for second place last year. VW says it sold a record 9.1 million vehicles.

GM was the top-selling automaker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008.

TOM KRISHER
AP Auto Writer