Toyota logo
Toyota logo - 

KAI RYSSDAL: From computers to cars we go. General Motors might be the world's biggest automaker. But Toyota's the world's most profitable. The company announced today profits for last quarter were up a whopping 39 percent from a year ago. They were helped by a big bump in overseas sales. Which would be us. Marketplace's Jocelyn Ford reports.

JOCELYN FORD: Toyota's roaring profits are another sign that the company is speeding toward replacing General Motors as the world's biggest carmaker.

Auto Analyst Chris Richter says they might reach that goal post next year.

CHRIS RICHTER: "They are beating back their uncompetitive American rivals, which is allowing them to gain quite a bit of market share with superior pricing."

Last month, for the first time Toyota outsold Ford in the United States. Richter says the Japanese automaker is doing a lot of things right.

RICHTER: "I mean, where do you start? They keep the product line up newer, they introduce new models more frequently, they have more efficient production."

Higher gas prices also help Toyota capitalize on its reputation for fuel efficiency.

Richter says the hybrid Prius isn't yet adding a lot to profits because it's expensive to make. But it does help Toyota market itself as the car of choice for drivers who want to save money at the pump.

I'm Jocelyn Ford for Marketplace.