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World's Biggest Brands Flex Their Muscles

Pop quiz. How many different brands of commercial vehicles are sold around the world? The answer: More than 200.

The Toyota Motor Corp. 86 sports coupe is driven by Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp., during its unveiling at Fuji Speedway in Oyama Town, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. Toyota Motor Corp. introduced its new 86 coupe today, betting that the 200-horsepower sports car will widen the Japanese automaker's appeal beyond its best-selling Camry sedan and Prius hybrid.
Tomohiro Ohsumi | Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Toyota Motor Corp. 86 sports coupe is driven by Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp., during its unveiling at Fuji Speedway in Oyama Town, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. Toyota Motor Corp. introduced its new 86 coupe today, betting that the 200-horsepower sports car will widen the Japanese automaker's appeal beyond its best-selling Camry sedan and Prius hybrid.

All-together, those brands sold more than 79 million cars and trucks around the world last year. That was a new record.

But the real focus is on the top ten brands, which sell 40.2 million (just over half of the global volume) vehicles last year.

According to IHS Automotive, here are the top ten brands and how many the sold last year:

1. Toyota: 6.41 million

2. Volkswagen: 5.65 million

3. Ford: 5.18 million

4. Chevy: 4.54 million

5. Nissan: 4.14 million

6. Hyundai: 3.81 million

7. Honda: 2.94 million

8. Kia: 2.85 million

9. Renault: 2.18 million

10. Peugeot: 2.0 million

What stands out about the list are the top 5 brands. All of the have strengthened their position because the parent companies have focused on building those brands in their strongest markets.

— Toyota: After a brutal couple years with recalls and supply problems, Toyota has re-doubled efforts to win regain sales in the U.S.

—Volkswagen: The executives in Germany have pushed the brand even more aggressively in China where VW is a leading brand.

—Ford and Chevy: Both have picked up market share in the U.S., in part because other well know domestic names (Pontiac, Mercury, Saturn) have gone away.

This is the way it is in the auto business these days. The push among automakers is to add more production and to make their strongest brands bigger. In the next couple of years, expect each of these brands to grow global sales even more.

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