RAYONG, Thailand -- Ford Motor Co.'s Focus is on track to unseat Toyota Motor Corp.'s aging Corolla to become the world's top-selling car, according to Ford.
Ford made the announcement Friday at its assembly plant in Rayong, Thailand, which opened in May to build the Focus.
The company says it sold 489,616 Focus sedans and hatchbacks globally in the first half of 2012, besting the Corolla by almost 27,000.
The Focus has several advantages, said Aaron Bragman, an automotive industry analyst for IHS Global Insight. It is newer, features better handling and styling, has superior technology, and has a much nicer interior than the Corolla.
"I'd rank it superior to the Corolla in pretty much most ways," he said.
But Toyota is not conceding the title. It has disputed Ford's numbers, saying its car is still on top when Corollas sold under other names are included. Hatchback versions of the Corolla are sold as the Auris in Europe and Matrix in the United States. Toyota also sells the Corolla Verso, a vanlike vehicle that Toyota has traditionally counted as a Corolla, spokesman Mike Michels said.
Including all the models, Toyota sold 603,840 Corollas in the first half, beating the focus by about 114,000, Mr. Michels said.
Toyota is working on a new version of the Corolla, which is expected to go on sale next year, although the company hasn't made it official.
Ford's recently revamped Focus is sold in more than 100 countries worldwide. It's a strong seller in the United States, where Focus sales were up 31 percent in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2011. But the Corolla is still king in the United States, where it outsold the Focus by nearly 27,500 in the first half of the year.