For the first time ever, Toyota has sold more cars and trucks worldwide than GM, in the first three months of this year. Toyota’s sales for the first quarter rose 9% to a record 2.35 million compared to GM which only rose 3% to 2.26 million vehicles.
Many analysts predict that Toyota will overtake GM in worldwide sales this year. In the past few years Toyota has steadily stolen market share from GM, due to a decline of the popularity SUVs and trucks in the U.S. market. The Camry and Corolla helped raise Toyota’s U.S. sales last year more than 12%. In March, Toyota’s market share rose to 16% compared to 22% for GM and 17% for Ford.
GM is currently in a restructuring process that has cut production, reduced fleet sales, and cut back on incentives. The company no longer wants to just produce cars for the sake of increasing volume. Instead profitability is their new priority.
“Obviously, the news wasn’t what we wanted to hear, but at the same time, it doesn’t distract us from the business we have at hand and that’s designing, building and selling the best cars and trucks for our customers all around the world,” said GM spokesman John McDonald.
Overall GM sales have declined in the US, but in other areas of the world GM has had some growth, such as Asia and Europe. GM has increased overseas production to keep up with the demand in China, which saw a 32% jump in sales. They are also building a new factory in India.
“It shouldn’t be forgotten that we also had a record for the first quarter,” McDonald said. “As GM continues to grow, we are the leader in many emerging markets around the world.”
Even though Toyota’s sales have overtaken GM, the company says that is not their ultimate goal. Instead they want to focus on having the best quality, which will in turn drive sales. Their “global master plan” is to have 15% of the world market by 2010.
In the meantime Toyota is growing concerned about a political backlash against the company in the U.S.
“We are certainly concerned,” Toyota Senior Adviser Hiroshi Okuda said earlier this year, adding that Toyota needed to “significantly” increase the number of foreigners on its board.
The company recently promoted American James Press, president of Toyota’s North American division.
Expect to see the two companies go head to head this year to see who will gain the title of the “Number 1 Automaker”.
Full Story: Detroit Free Press