Interesting data was released yesterday by General Motors. It seems that the company isn’t in much danger of falling behind Toyota in sales. To the contrary, it’s pulling away from them.
General Motors set a new record in the third quarter for world-wide sales, increasing sales by 4% over the year earlier period to 2.39 million vehicles. While Toyota hasn’t released world-wide sales figures, it’s sales in the U.S., Europe and Japan – its biggest markets – were down 3.8% for the quarter. As the company does not have a significant presence in many other markets, it is not expected that sales elsewhere can make up for the decline in these markets.
But they sure did at GM. Though GM’s North American sales fell 6.1% to 1.21 vehicles, mostly due to the declining truck market, it scored big everywhere else. Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East sales were up 22 percent to 329,398 vehicles. European sales were up 15% to 523,590. Overall, non-North American sales were 57% of the company’s total sales, and it’s aiming to increase that to 60%.
Which brings up the question of what Toyota’s doing – or not doing.
Toyota does not have a competitive presence in either China or Latin America markets, two of the fastest growing markets and both places where GM has been exceptionally successful. GM has much better market penetration in Europe than Toyota, as well – GM’s Opel division was responsible for most of the European sales gain.
It wasn’t so long ago that General Motors was the company that seemed to be rooted in the past, unable to adapt to changing markets. When Toyota publicly vowed to become the largest selling producer of vehicles in the world two years ago, many people thought of that promise as an inevitability, and inevitable sooner rather than later.
But, ever since, it’s been as though Toyota were cursed by that decision. It’s been plagued by recalls and quality problems. 
In Japan, it and its executives were investigated for hiding a deadly steering defect (in a model not sold here). Two of its top American executives have jumped ship to Chrysler and Ford, respectively. Two days ago, Toyota got trashed by Consumer Reports, with its mainstay Camry rated “below average” in reliability. Yesterday, a federal appellate court upheld a jury finding that Toyota has infringed a patent with the hybrid drivetrain design used on the Prius and its other hybrid vehicles, including one in the Lexus line. Even its leading position in the hybrid market is slipping, with Toyota’s admission that it cannot produce a lithium ion battery in the immediately foreseeable future.
And now the news that GM is pulling away in the sales race, world-wide.

If it weren’t for bad luck, it seems, Toyota wouldn’t have any luck at all.
Beyond the quality issues, however, Toyota does not seem to be focusing on the places where cars are going to be selling in the future. While General Motors is establishing a leadership position in emerging markets, Toyota seems to be struggling to maintain its place in mature markets. 
But, even there, things don’t seem to be as tranquil for Toyota as they once were.
GM thinks they’ve finally gotten it right with the Malibu.
If they are correct, Toyota’s going to keep slipping.

Source: Bloomberg

Ralph Kalal
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  (2) posted on 10.21.2007

mabye when the rotaters are not put in right and they put in wrong and they are in a rush to fix them up so the cars will not work and go for lunch by the time they get back they sell the toyota’s they are broken the rotaters not in right not workin properly and its loosing touch of the rotaters and its not workin good. The good thing is that some toyota’s are up and ready to drive cause they are fixed right.

  (372) posted on 10.20.2007

I’m gonna jump in here one sec. I happen to drive a Japanese built Toyota and I know several other people who do as well. The quality of the Japanese built ones are not that stellar either. In fact, with less than 50,000km on the clock, the car has experienced, an O2 sensor failure, the centre console has a cubby door that I am afraid of opening for fear of breaking it (it previously broke all by itself without ever being touched on two occasions), the rear windows routinely refuse to open without disassembling the panel and freeing the regulators, the soundproofing is non-existent and conversations can clearly be heard OUTSIDE the car when the windows are up and the conversants are 10m away. The brake rotors are warped and have gone beyond the stage of turning (having been turned once already). The outlet pipe for the air conditioning is a flimsy piece of rubber that merely slips through a hole in the floor board. If this car goes through any reasonable amount of water it WILL be flooded. And let’s not forget the headlamp switch assembly that was recalled (my local dealer refused to acknowledge this until I called our local government watchdog group on them) and replaced. The only thing great about this car is the 50mpg economy it boasts and it’s not a slouch at it either. It’s easy to poke fun at the American workers’ efforts, but the truth is that TOYOTA is at fault.

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