Toyota outsold GM globally last year. Of course, GM took the low road and claimed they were still number one by dint of their minority partnerships with Chinese automakers. This year, ToMoCo will lift the crown as the world’s largest automaker– joint ventures or no. Anyway, here in the real world, that gig’s been up for a while. More than a year ago, GM CEO Rick Wagoner declared that Toyota’s title-taking didn’t matter. OK, it did, a bit. But it really didn’t; ’cause we don’t have time to worry about that shit [paraphrasing]. After all, we’ll be profitable by…. uh… hey! Is that an SSR? Well, Red Ink Rick’s going to get another chance to play spin the news. CNBC’s Phil LeBeau reports that Toyota’s three U.S. brands could outsell GM’s eight brands in October. “This week is not only the last one of the month. It’s also the week that could determine if GM holds on to the top spot in monthly auto sales in the U.S. Initial reports of October retail auto sales show Toyota outpacing GM and Ford. If that trend holds for the full month, we could be looking at the day many in Detroit have feared for years.” Even if GM doesn’t, Phil worries about the psychological impact of the smack-down.
“But even if Toyota out sells GM for October, what does it mean? Yes, there are bragging rights, but beyond that is there a residual carry-over to Toyota being #1 in sales for one month? Yes and No.
“Yes, in that Toyota’s ascent to #1 would confirm the momentum the automaker has been building for years. And the auto business is very much about momentum. When a company is picking up business, the public notices and even the most stubborn people admit, “maybe I should at least look at those cars and trucks.”
In closing, Phil says hey, cut me slack. It’s one month for Christ’s sake [paraphrasing]. To which the only possible reply is, “Hey. You brought it up.” [Look for a GM Death Watch on this subject tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'll write it.]