Motor Corp. overtakes Corp. in global sales in the first quarter, selling a record 2.35 million vehicles vs. GM’s 2.26 million, also a record.
Althoughis only on top for one quarter so far, it may be poised to hold on to the mantle of the world’s largest auto maker. This year, Toyota says it plans to build 9.42 million units, with sales growing 6.0% to 9.34 million vehicles. GM does not provide a global sales forecast.
Although it fared well globally, Toyota’s first-quarter sales in its home market of Japan were off 9.3% on 482,538 units.
Meanwhile, GM’s sales reached 1.36 million vehicles outside the U.S. in the first quarter, up nearly 10% from year-ago and outpacing industry sales growth of 5.0%.
Despite dethroning GM as the world’s largest auto maker, if even for just one quarter, Toyota is downplaying the accomplishment, having stated time and again that being the top auto maker is not its overall objective.
Surpassing GM is “not the goal, and it will only be a result of what we’ve been doing,” Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said late last year.
GM also has downplayed Toyota’s ascension in the global marketplace, but has said it is intent on remaining the global leader.
GM CEO “Rick Wagoner has said that one month or one quarter doesn’t make a trend,” a GM spokeswoman tells Bloomberg. “They (Toyota) are formidable competitors, but our intention is to maintain leadership.”
What Toyota has been doing is slowly chipping away at GM’s market share in the U.S. and growing sales around the world by emphasizing quality and its hybrid technology.
In the U.S., Toyota held a 15.6% share of the market in the first quarter, up from 9.3% in 2000, according to Ward’s data.
In contrast, GM’s U.S. market share fell to 23.2% in the first quarter, an 81-year low, Ward’s data shows.