GM Tops Toyota for Worldwide Sales. Barely. For Now.
Bloomberg reports that GM outsold Toyota for the first nine months of this year, to remain the world's largest automaker. GM's strong showing overseas gave them a total of 7.06m sales, compared to Toyota's 7.05m. Both companies are seeking to ameliorate a slump in their home patch by expanding into emerging economies. GM's fastest growing markets in the third quarter: Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. The General showed double digit sales increases in these territories, along with solid gains in the Asian-Pacific region. Meanwhile, GM's North American sales sank 6.6 percent for the year. While ToMoCo's NA sales are increasing, the Japanese automaker's growth stateside has slowed over the past three months. Toyota expects to overtake GM for worldwide production this year, as GM cuts production of trucks and SUVs. In sum, GM projects total worldwide production will hit 9.285m vehicles in 2007. Toyota predicts they'll produce 9.34m units.
I think GM can do well by shifting to a low-cost, lower-quality, high-volume production for third-world countries. GM's problem has always been how to sustain their labor costs, which they have "solved" by driving volume with incentives and lower quality cars. With imports taking up the majority of the luxury and high-end volume, GM just can't find enough domestic demand to keep their workers busy. Going overseas can provide the volume they need to keep per-unit legacy costs down. The question is, what will they do when Indian and Chinese carmakers start squeezing them from the low-cost end?
I can see the import fanboys/girls are really irked by this news. In 2005 and 2006 the fanboys/girls flexed their internet muscles with sure-thing predictions like: "next month GM will be bankrupt" and next year GM will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota!" Unfortunately for them they were about as accurate as Pontiac's demand forecasts for the 2004 GTO. Hopefully, no one at the RenCen is doing the Super Bowl Shuffle yet. If they are, I'd like to smack them on the head. But, import fanboiz/girls should realize that global growth is obviously a priority at the once-again competitive GM, and here in North America we don't hear much about amid the talk of local sales declines and strikes. While you're tooling around in your Prius feeling all-DiCaprio and self-righteous, some young guy (pun intended) just picked up a new Park Avenue in Beijing and is REALLY happy about it. And he's going to tell all his friends how happy he is.....and I bet he has A LOT more friends than you or I.
When Toyota was on top, nobody said "barely, for now."
When Toyota regains the lead, which is sure to happen, it won't last that long if they continue to make crappy products like the new Tundra: http://www.autoblog.com/2007/10/22/toyota-tundra-hit-with-two-more-quality-issues/