It’s official. Toyota has overtaken General Motors to become the world’s number one car company in terms of sales for the first three months of the year. For the January-March quarter, Toyota managed to sell 2.348 million vehicles versus 2.26 million vehicles sold by GM over the same period. Note that Toyota’s tally includes cars sold under its Lexus and Scion brands, as well as vehicles from Daihatsu and Hino.

This is the first time that Toyota has beat GM in global sales over an extended period and is more than likely a sign of things to come. GM is still number one in terms of production but considering the rate at which Toyota’s output is growing, it’s only a matter of time until the Japanese giant takes this title as well.

Last year, Toyota’s worldwide output grew by 10% to 9.018 million vehicles, a near second to GM’s output of 9.18 million. To curb its losses and avoid bankruptcy, GM has been forced to cut down its workforce and close several of its plants. In contrast, Toyota simply can’t build enough of its vehicles. To meet surging demand for its popular Camry sedan, the carmaker just last week added a new production line for the car at a Subaru plant in the US.

Last year, news of Toyota’s "global master plan" was leaked to media revealing the carmaker’s projections to achieve 15% of the global car market by 2010 and to topple GM in the process. Toyota is also enjoying massive success in the US where in that same year, it moved to the number three position behind GM and Ford. We wonder how long it’ll take, if ever, for Toyota to takeover GM in its home market.