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Published: Thursday, 1/3/2008

Scion brand holds key to Toyota ranking


Toyota Motor Corp.'s namesake division may declare itself the No. 1 auto brand in the United States for 2007. General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet won't agree.

The dispute pivots on one question: How should sales of Toyota's Scion vehicles be tallied?

Toyota's count includes Scions, which bear no Toyota badges and are marketed separately.

Through November, the Toyota-Chevrolet race was tight enough to hinge on Scion. Including Scion, Toyota sold 2,101,804 cars and light trucks, for a 35,524-unit advantage. Without Scion's 121,237 vehicles, Chevrolet would be on top by 85,713. The year's sales results are to be released today.

"We don't consider Scion a part of the Toyota brand," said Terry Rhadigan, a GM spokesman for the Chevrolet division. "On our scoreboard, we're leading."

Countered Toyota spokesman Xavier Dominicis: "We've always counted it that way, and it's sold only at Toyota dealerships."

Tom Libby, an analyst for J.D. Power and Associates, said, "I don't think for a second that Scion is a Toyota vehicle; it's clearly its own brand. You might as well count Pontiac vehicles as Chevrolet sales if you think Scion's a Toyota."

Toyota has muscled past Ford Motor Co. to become the No. 2 seller of autos in the United States, behind GM, for 2007.

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