Toyota Tops GM for World Sales
With a little help from a tanking global economy and miserable 2008 auto sales, Toyota has finally overtaken General Motors place at the top of the pack for worldwide sales. GM has topped the sales chart for the last 77 years, but Toyota has been making a hard charge over the last decade. In 2008, Toyota sold 8.97 million units worldwide compared to GM’s 8.36 million. While GM execs downplay the importance of the No. 1 spot, it definitely gives Toyota new bragging rights for worldwide domination.
For GM President Fritz Henderson, it’s more important to regain GM’s financial strength since the company hasn’t posted a profit since 2004 and is now relying on a $4 billion federal emergency loans to stay alive. In its home market, GM still stands at the top (with Toyota a distant second) but saw overall U.S. sales drop 22.7 percent compared to 2007. GM, comprised of eight individual brands, sold 2.95 million vehicles in 2008. Not all sales figures were down for GM as it saw minor gains in emerging foreign markets such as Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. The automotive industry as a whole shrank 18 percent with sales dropping to approximately 13.25 million units.
Although Toyota is now officially at the top, it isn’t immune to the current economic problems either. Just a year after marking its 50th year of selling cars in the United States, Toyota posted the biggest sales decline among its major Japanese competitors with a 15.4 percent drop compared to 2007. Honda, Nissan and Mazda all posted declines, while Subaru was the only Japanese automaker to post a sales increase for 2008, albeit a scant 0.3 percent. Toyota probably doesn’t have much time to bask in its glory as GM readies a host of competitive vehicles including the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, 2010 Buick LaCrosse and 2010 Cadillac SRX.