Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Toyota: World's Largest Automaker (2008)


January 22, 2009
Toyota Ahead of G.M. in 2008 Sales

DETROIT — For the first time since the Great Depression, General Motors cannot call itself the world’s largest automaker. Its sales fell behind Toyota in 2008, a year when G.M. celebrated its 100th anniversary and narrowly avoided a bankruptcy filing amid a downturn in the economy.

G.M. said Wednesday that it sold 8.35 million vehicles in 2008, about 620,000 less than Toyota’s 8.97 million. G.M.’s sales were down 11 percent from 2007, while Toyota’s declined 4 percent.

Toyota, which was founded in Japan two years after G.M. became the dominant carmaker, had been closing in on G.M. for years.

Its sales surged around the world while G.M.’s global expansion was tempered by decades of falling market share in the United States. The two had traded places from one quarter to the next in recent years, and G.M. had been widely expected to slip into second place in 2007 but held off Toyota by 3,000 vehicles.

Both companies struggled in 2008, as vehicle demand slumped, but G.M. was hurt more, to the point that executives said the company would run out of money without billions in loans from the United States government. G.M.’s global sales fell 26 percent in the fourth quarter, and the company received a $4 billion loan in December.

“The challenges in the global financial markets, including credit tightening, the drop in commodity prices, and economic uncertainty continue to negatively impact overall demand for new vehicles,” Jonathan Browning, G.M.’s vice president for global sales, service and marketing, said Wednesday in a statement. “For the total global industry, we saw about 3.5 million fewer vehicles sold in 2008 than the previous year.”

In 2008, 64 percent of G.M.’s sales occurred outside the United States, up from 59 percent the previous year. The company still outsells Toyota in the United States by a wide margin — nearly 800,000 vehicles in 2008, or 33 percent more than Toyota — but the Japanese company is a bigger player in the rest of the world.

G.M., which has lost money every year since 2004, has said it is more concerned with restructuring to become a smaller but profitable company than remaining the world leader in sales.

What a colossal failure of Leadership. The American Auto Industry desperately needs a Steve Jobs. Detroit still doesnt get it. It is firmly mired in the past. The world has moved on.