By on July 23, 2008

Missed it by that much!Reuters reports that Toyota sold 4.8m vehicles in the first half of 2008, while GM managed to move 4.54m. It's official: GM is no longer the world's largest automobile manufacturer. GM's spinmeisters promptly bragged that it reached record numbers in three of its four regions in the second quarter of 2008. Unfortunately, GM's 116k-unit growth outside of the U.S. was swamped by a 236k-unit decline in the home market. Also, GM continues to take full unit credit for sales in China– even though the Chinese business is majority-owned by Chinese partner SAIC. (For example, GM owns only 34 percent of the unit which builds the high-volume Chevrolet Spark.) GM's decision back in 2000 to ramp-up trucks and SUVs whilst eviscerating their US car efforts in order to boost profit margins has come home to roost. 

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23 Comments on “It’s Official: Toyota is #1...”


  • avatar

    Well, considering that it was years of beancounting and fleet sales as they desperately tried to be the BIGGEST AUTO CONGLOMERATE EVAR!!! is what got them into this mess, I think it might be a good thing. MBAs are the stupidest, most short-sighted bunch of meddlers that our universities churn out by the thousands, and it’s this quarterly results-focused, “market share at all costs” approach that has mired what was once a great industry filled with passionate innovators in the muck of the market.

    Let Toyota scramble around proving they’re King Shit for a while, let’s see what happens to their quality as they lose focus on making great cars that people love. Once it all becomes about the money, your business wastes away, and the only shame is that the incompetent boobs that lead the company into decline aren’t ruined for it.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Toyota won the title of “World’s biggest carmaker by volume” in 2006, due to GM using its Wuling-SAIC joint venture’s sales figures when, by rights, they belonged to SAIC as they were the majority share holder. GM pulled the same stunt in 2007.

    But if GM ACTUALLY acknowledge that Toyota are the new Kings of teh auto world, what will that do to GM’s morale? Despite all their woes, GM have clung onto their “World’s largest automaker by volume” title, even going to cheating to maintain it. When they lose that, what will they be left with you boost troops?

    Rick Wagoner’s legacy will consist of:

    GM’s biggest loss ever.
    GM’s loss of “World’s biggest carmaker by volume” title.
    GM’s major loss of market share.
    GM’s retiring of the classic marque “Oldsmobile”.

    Not to mention a wonderful case study of Rick Wagoner’s management of GM which will include:

    The £2 billion spent on the FIATsco.
    The employment of Bob Lutz and his “pearls of wisdom”.
    The money thrown on SUV’s and Pick ups and no diversity in line ups.
    Management’s excessive pay structure.

    And that’s only the events I can remember off the top of my head….!

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Let’s give ‘em $5 billion to fix the problems!

    – Barak Obama

  • avatar
    willbodine

    “Kazoomaloo: and it’s this quarterly results-focused, “market share at all costs” approach”

    Um, as far as this relates to GM in the last 30 years, all I can ask is “what market share??”

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    rah rah sis boom bah.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The problem is that the people who are suffering because of GM’s missteps are by and large not the ones making the bad decisions. Something is deeply broken in the way much of corporate America is run.

  • avatar
    detroit1701

    Let’s see some breakdowns (if they are available) by region: Asia, Europe, North America, South America. Maybe some line graphs indicating sales volume per manufacturer over the past ten years.

    Is there anywhere that provides trends per model? Can we track mid-sized cars by volume over a period of time?

  • avatar
    jaje

    Yes $5B will make them competitive again b/c the changes in consumer tastes and fallout of the gas guzzler fad was completely unforeseeable. No one could predict this ever happening. It’s not like it happened before for them to get a lesson in history. Rick and Bob are doing a wonderful job and should be paid very well for their efforts – more than other automakers who are actually making profit or who now are the worlds biggest producer of automobiles.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    While I don’t want to pizzle on the working man too much, everyone at these companies is partially responsible for the failure.

    While I DO NOT blame the unions for the demise of the big 3, its pretty hard to argue that the UAW insistence on *very* generous benefits packages, resistance to change, job banks, etc… did not make it much harder for management to adapt. How on earth would you explain to shareholders in 1985 that you plan on start the mother of all strikes to solve these issues, cost the company billions, when things were mostly going ok then? It ain’t going to happen.

    Is management stupid? Yep. Was the union leadership stupid? Yep. Who elected those guys and endorsed their policies? The union members. the exhibited the same greed as the execs (just not as effectively), and put their own temporary benefits over the good of the company. Nobody is really innocent here, imo. It’s too bad that a bunch of people are going to end up unemployed here, but that’s what happens when you ride the gravy train into the terminal.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Is management stupid? Yep. Was the union leadership stupid? Yep. Who elected those guys and endorsed their policies? The union members. the exhibited the same greed as the execs (just not as effectively), and put their own temporary benefits over the good of the company. Nobody is really innocent here, imo. It’s too bad that a bunch of people are going to end up unemployed here, but that’s what happens when you ride the gravy train into the terminal.

    Sounds like the same logic people use when they blame Americans for the follies and failures of their elected leaders. Generalizations like this make me believe you don’t have a full understanding of union politics.

  • avatar
    wannabewannabe

    If Toyota is the new GM, is it time for a Toyota Death Watch?

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    You are totally right, I don’t have the faintest idea about union politics.

    Of course, nobody here has any more idea of what its like to run a gigantic car company and trying to navigate between stockholders, unions, dealers, the economy, the government, and the competition to set a course for the company that will allow it to prosper for decades. But that doesn’t stop us from calling them morons and even harsher language. Nor should it.

  • avatar

    Toyota also claimed the production title in Q1 (and I believe Q2) of 2007, but GM pulled ahead (thanks to Wuling, which I agree should not count toward its total). So the real story is that Toyota was the largest automaker for the current quarter, but GM could still make an argument that on an annual basis (2007, 2008, etc.) the title has not yet been awarded for 2008.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Well if you have no idea and you continue to use such harsh language, then such harsh language would be reduced to mere trash talk, and I would’ve expected better from our Best and Brightest.

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    Just wondering, does Toyota count the vehicles sold in China just like GM does? I assume that all foreign manufacturers have to follow the same rules (ie. Chinese companies have a majority ownership)

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Sounds like the same logic people use when they blame Americans for the follies and failures of their elected leaders. Generalizations like this make me believe you don’t have a full understanding of union politics.

    If not the AMERICAN voters are to blame then who is?

    I guess it was all of those Europeans, Canadians, and Mexicans that voted GWB into office TWICE!
    I live in NYC and I guess I should blame the residents of Los Angeles for electing our billionaire mayor who cant give a damn about any of the rank and file folks, TWICE!
    Are we not the people who continually return the same half-a$$ congressmen and senators0 to office term after term.

    We are the shareholders that vote (or do not) the piss-poor BODs of our failing companies and we also do elect Union leadership that is more interested in their POWER than the interests of the members.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    I just read the site; I make no claim to being the best and brightest. I couldn’t even change my cars oil without an illustrated manual.

  • avatar
    rochskier

    Folks, let’s not forget all the lobbyists running around and the depraved influence they exert on the American political process.

    At this very moment there are an estimated 40k+ registered, well-paid lobbyists inside the Beltway.

    Think about it.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    If not the AMERICAN voters are to blame then who is?

    I guess it was all of those Europeans, Canadians, and Mexicans that voted GWB into office TWICE!
    I live in NYC and I guess I should blame the residents of Los Angeles for electing our billionaire mayor who cant give a damn about any of the rank and file folks, TWICE!
    Are we not the people who continually return the same half-a$$ congressmen and senators0 to office term after term.

    We are the shareholders that vote (or do not) the piss-poor BODs of our failing companies and we also do elect Union leadership that is more interested in their POWER than the interests of the members.

    Yes, because each and every American citizen eligible to vote cast their ballot for Bush, right?

    Let’s not take into account the possibility that that Kerry lost because he failed to effectively counter the efforts of the Swifties that tanked his campaign. Let’s not take into account the possibility that Gore lost because the people wanted nothing to do with Clinton even as Gore himself did his best to distance himself from Bill.

    Let’s not take into account how tightly contested the mayoral elections were in 2001. Let’s not take into account Bloomberg’s ability to outspend his opponents in both election contests. Let’s not take into account any of these little things and just say, “hey, you voted for these guys, even if you didn’t vote for them,” because we obviously can’t be bothered with such minute details.

    There’s simplicity for the sake of argument, then there’s oversimplification because we simply can’t be bothered with nuances. Apparently, we don’t do nuances.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Ok, here’s the story on Wuling. Wuling is a nameplate only used in China. By Chinese law, no foreign company can own more than 49% of a Chinese automaker. So, the choices are:

    1. Include all sales from automakers owned at least 49% (or 30% or whatever) by the company you are counting.
    2. Include all sales from nameplates owned by the company you are counting, including those from automakers owned at least 49% (or 30% or whatever) by the company you are counting.
    3. Only count companies owned 51%+ (or 100% or whatever) by the company you are counting. This means you have to exclude Chinese auto sales completely from the totals.

    GM is stronger than Toyota in China; therefore, if you throw out China completely, Toyota wins. Wuling is a Chinese-only nameplate and only owned 34% by GM. If you count Wuling, GM won in 2007. If you don’t, even if you count the nameplates that GM and Toyota use in China and also own complete worldwide rights to (Buick, etc.), Toyota wins.

  • avatar
    Raskolnikov

    How about keeping this on topic dudes? Farago? Where are you?

    I say this is ultimately a good thing for the General. It should help stifle some of the management arrogance that comes with being top dog for nearly a century.
    When an entity gets too big–it will right size: Roman Empire, Soviet Union, Kirstie Alley, General Motors…..it will happen to Toyota as well.

    Oh don’t forget Starbucks…

  • avatar
    LenS

    Union politics is the same as politics everywhere else. The incompetent, lazy and crooked flock to positions of power in the union since it’s easier than actually working hard. The existence of the union, like any bureaucracy, rewards this behavior and chases away really productive people. The UAW is like a giant welfare state where everyone expects more and more for less and less effort.

  • avatar
    Engineer

    WOWA, the pearls of wisdom from 2000! Some personal favorites:
    1. This year GM expects truck sales to equal car sales for the first time. Next year’s projection is for truck sales to hit 54 percent, increasing to 57 percent in 2002 and 60 percent within five years. Actually, not a bad plan, at the time. But where was the Plan B, you know the one labelled “Risks to our current approach”?
    2. Zarella said it would be wrong to assume that, because GM was shifting to larger, more profitable vehicles, the company is shying away from pushing its share of the U.S. market back above 30 percent. The automaker captured 27.9 percent of U.S. sales in May, down from 29 percent in the year-earlier month and from about 34 percent in 1995. 30%? Those were the days…
    3. As for world market share, GM’s target of 28 percent would put it far ahead of its rivals, said Wagoner. Ford Motor Co. has about 15 percent of global sales, DaimlerChrysler AG has about 12 percent and Toyota Motor Corp. about 10 percent, he said. GM @ 28%, Toyota @ 10%! My, how the mighty have fallen…

    So Farago, here are some targets to measure Wagoner against…


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