Toyota Motor Corp. said Jan. 23 the most recent sales data show that it climbed into second place in global auto sales in 2003, climbing past Ford Motor Co. for the first time, according to Dow Jones Newswire. Toyota said its vehicle sales by registration in 2003 are estimated at 6.78 million vehicles, up 9.9 percent, while Ford said Jan. 22 its sales for the year slipped 3.6 percent to 6.72 million vehicles. Those numbers demonstrate the increasing competitiveness of Toyota and other Japanese automakers against the Big Three automakers in the U.S. market, Dow Jones Newswire said. "Were not aiming for any specific sales ranking," a Toyota spokesman said, adding the U.S. Big Three are still larger than Toyota if their group sales include those of affiliates. Toyota said it is often difficult to make direct comparisons of sales figures of Japanese and U.S. manufacturers. Japanese companies define sales as the number of vehicles sold by dealers and registered by the customers, while the U.S. sales data are on a wholesale basis, Dow Jones Newswire noted.