So, Is Ford No. 1 or Not?

Depending on how you count 'em, Ford (NYSE: F  )  owns the top-selling car in the Focus, globally selling 589,709 of them through June, up 20% from last year. That beats out Toyota's (NYSE: TM  ) Corolla, and if the pace holds through for the rest of the year it would mark the second year in a row that Ford can lay claim to the best-selling car in the world.

Toyota, though, isn't throwing in the towel yet and contends that if you count the Matrix, which is essentially a Corolla hatchback, along with all the other "Corollas" it sells under different nameplates, it's the winner.

Ford's claim is based on global vehicle registration data provided by the auto research firm Polk, which confirms that Ford's numbers are accurate, but can't comment on Toyota's numbers unless that carmaker releases them. Toyota is said to be preparing a response.

Last year Ford sold 1.02 million vehicles as sales jumped 40% from 2011, and the contest with Toyota might not be so close this year if U.S. sales weren't so weak. So far this year, the Focus is up only 1% to 188,654 vehicles through September, though overall the carmaker's sales are 8% higher over that same period from a year ago. The lackluster performance is forcing Ford to idle the Michigan assembly plant for two weeks during the fourth quarter where the Focus and the slow-selling C-Max hybrid are made.

China is Ford's best market for the Focus, accounting for a third of global Focus sales; it also pushing sales higher for Ford's entire lineup of cars. Sales in China soared 137% over the first six months of 2013, putting Ford in line to sell more than 6 million cars globally this year.

It's not just Ford seeing a big uptake in Chinese sales this year: General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) is seeing big gains too. Earlier this month it reported that September sales jumped 13.7% in the country following an 11.2% gain in August, which itself followed a record month in July.

China has already become one of the most important markets in the world for carmakers, with 15.9 million vehicles sold there already through the first nine months, which is slightly more than what's expected to be sold here at home for the entire year. China saw a 21% jump in car and light truck sales in September, rising to to 1.59 million units, the highest number achieved since January, and it's on track to sell over 20 million cars in 2013.

Ford sales in China jumped 61% to 96,111 units last month, driven in large part by the popularity of the Focus, which was the country's top-selling car in September (though it lags VW's Lavida year to date). Ford has launched six new vehicles in China this year and is working hard to make up for having come to the market late in the game.

So, in this race to the top, is the Focus No. 1 as Ford claims, or does Toyota have a point that you have to take into account all the nameplates? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2013, at 10:37 AM, twowize wrote:

    Well ford can claim its number 1 all it wants, but take and put any 1 of their designs and park it beside a hyundia or kia . And you will see its a carbon copy of these two automakers vehicles .So with that said if Iam going to buy a carbon copy I will just buy the original and buy the import and not contribute to fords boasting .FORD SUCKS.

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2013, at 10:57 AM, brother10 wrote:

    wow

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2013, at 11:07 AM, brother10 wrote:

    Very big JOKE, Dangerous and Defective FIX OR REPAIR DAILY haha. A vehicle with ABS,brakes and EBD and the Brakes Locking up and skateing,What a crap. FORD: FORD OWNERS RECOMMEND DODGE.

    Ford is the Most DANGEROUS and DEFECTIVE Vehicles on the Road, Even their Crap Ford Mustang has Dangerous Brakes Fade. New Ford Burning Oil, Transmission slamming when gear change, Suspension falling apart, Steering has big play and the list goes on and on. And Ford not taking any Responsibility for their Dangerous Death Trap. A person name Trina talk to me on line and said" Do what you want "

    TOYOTA all the way!!!!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2013, at 11:40 AM, rankin81 wrote:

    Neither are number 1 in my book. Both build average vehicles with generic styling. The Fusion sedan looks sharp, but we'll see how long it take before it looks dated since Aston Martin has been using that same design since the turn of the century.

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2013, at 11:42 AM, imDanielle2 wrote:

    Remember how FORD handled the Explorer roll-over accidents/deaths..? After seeing how they kicked so many customers and families of the people who were injured or killed in those vehicles.. I would never support FORD!

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2013, at 11:45 AM, Chevyisajoke wrote:

    LOL... These comments are laughable! What a bunch or retards. hahaha

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2013, at 3:36 PM, ead wrote:

    China maybe the number one market for cars right now but it has to fix its smog problems. Selling a zillion cars there maybe good for the car companies but not for the Chinese population.

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2013, at 4:56 PM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    Just putting the same name on the back of a vehicle don't mean they are the same just like putting a different name on the back doesn't make it an a different model. Over all it's just nonsense that means little.

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2013, at 7:58 PM, hmsthehood wrote:

    Not a Ford fan.

    But bottom line is Toyota is number one with recalls right now.

    Another 800,000 this past week.

    I guess some would consider that quality.

    And lets remember Toyota about six months ago settled the lawsuit against it for the breaking / floor mat issues which it claimed were driver errors.

    I guess people that buy Toyota just can't drive.

    At least according to Toyota.

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2013, at 8:16 PM, jonmark142 wrote:

    tiyita wins hands down - ford would claim the same if shoes were reversed...

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2013, at 10:43 PM, mustang6984 wrote:

    twosize...nice to see you know so much (NOT) about the topic you have raised. Might want to check the bloodlines there of the two car companies you named...and see who owns a substantial chunk of both. (Hint...go to the linen closet and grab a towel...wipe the egg off your face.

    "Better to keep quiet...

    And be thought a fool...

    Than to speak...

    And remove all doubt!"

    Thanks twosize for removing that doubt!

    As for the rest of the Ford haters...

    RE: the Explorer "roll-overs"...contributed to ALL of those by owner/operator errors. Under-inflated tires and reckless driving. I have one...nearly 300k miles on it, still with the factory clutch. Great car...gets over 22 mpg on the hiway still.

    brother10...can't reply to ignorance...other than to tell you to follow the missive above for twosize.

    Yes, Ford is number one...and if Toyota wants to play that name game, then they need to allow Ford to do likewise, and then Toyota will see how bad they REALLY lose out to Ford!

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2013, at 12:07 PM, Stangman123 wrote:

    There is a good reason why they should be number one. With an F150 with nearly 130k, and Explorer with 150k. at 7 and 11 years respectively. I have had many cars, but none as good as those two. First Fords I have ever owned. First domestics too.

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