Old News Of The Day: Toyota Tops GM

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

“Toyota Motor Corp. trumped General Motors (GM) in total car sales during the first nine months of 2008 to become the world’s top car producer for the first time,” the Mainichi Shimbun reports from Tokyo. “Huh,” say you, “hasn’t ToMoCo trampled GM already?” Not exactly, and not officially. But they are kicking ass and GM to the bottom. Unstoppably, one may add. “GM’s sales between January and September in 2008 were down 5.8 percent to 6,655,751, according to figures released by the company on Wednesday. Toyota’s sales for the same period, including those of subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors, were 7,051,029, almost unchanged from last year,” writes the Tokyo broadsheet with a kuso-eating grin on their faces, in the same sentence dispelling rumors that ToMoCo had contracted the galloping auto trade tuberculosis. [NB: Mainichi is one of the top three Nipponese papers,thick with Japanese politicos. Two of Mainichi’s CEOs became Prime Ministers of the Land of the Rising Corolla.] And yet the fat lady has not sung…

Officially, and unbelievably, GM is still the world’s largest automaker. The official score keeper of all things auto is the oddly French-named “Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles,” better known as OICA. In OICA’s 2007 tally of units sold, GM had edged-out Toyota by 800k units, and by creative bookkeeping, such as counting sales of companies where they had only a minority share. Immediately, Toyota shouted “foul!” (Politely.) They pointed to 9,497,754 units Toyota had made (as in produced) worldwide in 2007, versus 9,349,818 made by GM. Be it as it may, in the world according to OICA, GM is still the top dog until the fat lady sings the aria of the 2008 numbers.

With a deep bow towards Detroit, the Mainichi scribes now rub it in slicker than a Tokyo oily massage: “And while GM just beat out Toyota in total sales over 2007 as a whole, good first half figures and a relatively soft blow from the economic crisis compared to its American rival mean that Toyota is set to take the top spot this year.” You bet your ketsu they will.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Nov 02, 2008

    @Bridge2far: Wer'e talking worldwide sales. Including everything that has wheels, 4 or more. Cars, trucks (light and heavy) even busses. In that realm, 800K ain't no landslide On 2007, GM reported 9,349,818 sales, Toyota reported 8,534,690. That's supposed to be sales to customer btw, not alleged sales onto already overcrowded dealer lots (a goosing of numbers for which Ford is still notorious.) The "sales" immediately came under suspicion, because GM counted 100% sales of companies they only had a minority interest in. Toyota pointed to real production numbers. Said Toyota had produced 9,497,754 units in the same period, while GM had only produced 9,349,818. And GM "sold" all they produced? (Or maybe didn't even produce.) "Sumimasen, our cars move faster off the lots than yours," Toyota wanted to say, but Japanese school of good manners kept them from doing that, "are you frikken kidding us?" Anyway, that cheating chapter is closed. GM is assured of its own Pearl Harbour of 2008, and this time, nobody can say they didn't see it coming. Speaking of Hyundai, they have a long ways to go. They totalled 2,617,725 units in 2007.

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Nov 02, 2008

    Ok. I follow the logic. But 800,000 is still 800,000. Isn't that like almost a million?

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