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oyota has again dethroned General Motors as the world's top-selling automaker.  The Japanese company sold 9.7 million cars and trucks worldwide in 2012, although it's still counting. GM sold 9.29 million.  Both companies saw higher sales, but Toyota's growth was far larger as it rolled out new versions of popular models like the Camry. GM executives promised sales growth this year, especially in the U.S. 


 
 
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NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile carrier, will use location data from its 61.5 million subscriber devices to build a platform that monitors traffic conditions across the country. DoCoMo said it will leverage its access to massive amounts of location data to build a cloud platform of traffic information on which services can be built.  


 
 
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Toyota is setting up a social networking service with the help of a U.S. Internet company and Microsoft so drivers can interact with their cars in ways similar to Twitter and Facebook. Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. and Salesforce.com, based in San Francisco, announced their alliance Monday to launch "Toyota Friend," a private social network for Toyota owners that works similar to tweets on Twitter.


 
 
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Everything old is new again for one Japanese manufacturer, which has unveiled an electronic version of a rickshaw. The "Meguru" is a three-wheeled, three-seat compact vehicle whose single lithium-ion battery allows for a maximum speed and range of 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour, although the number of batteries could be increased for a longer ride.


 
 
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Many foreign automakers are trying to grab a larger share of the Japanese market by taking advantage of the strong yen to cut the prices of their cars, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of yen. These carmakers have chalked up brisk sales in recent months--the Japan Automobile Importers Association said Monday 131,799 registered imported cars were sold between January and August, an impressive 26.2 percent rise from the same period in 2009. 


 
 
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Toyota's Prius hybrid is becoming a little less quiet with a new electronic humming device the automaker hopes answers complaints from pedestrians who can't hear the top-selling car approaching. The ¥12,600 speaker system, which will be installed under the hood of the third-generation Prius, sets off a whirring sound designed to be about the same noise level as a regular car engine so it isn't annoying, Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday.


 
 
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Toyota, Nissan and other Japanese automakers together with a power company have set up a group to promote electric vehicles by standardizing recharging machines and marketing the technology abroad.


 
 
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Most business magazines try to look forward while Nikkei Trendy, one of the most popular monthly business magazines in Japan, just released their backwards-looking top 30 products of 2009. The selection is based on 4 major categories, sales, ingenuity, market-creation and influence, and is a good barometer for some of the major trends seen in Japan throughout the year. See the illustrated top 10 below.


 
 
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Imagine a car that can be refuelled in minutes but emits only water. Sounds like science fiction? In fact it already exists -- Hollywood star Jamie Lee Curtis has one. So does Honda president Takanobu Ito. Yet while some see them as the ultimate environmentally-friendly automobiles, the high production cost means that affordable hydrogen-powered fuel-cell cars are still more of a dream than reality.


 
 

Toyota Motor Corp's Prius hybrid was Japan's best-selling car in June while Honda Motor Co's rival Insight ranked fourth, helping the two hybrid leaders dominate the list of top-selling models. Sales of the Prius, which was remodelled in mid-May, jumped 258 percent to 22,292 units from the year-earlier month, data from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association showed.