Toyota Overtakes General Motors

by : Anthony Fontanelle

During the first quarter of this year, it was announced that Toyota surpassed General Motors to become the largest automaker but only for that period of time. But Automotive News recently reported that Toyota has already outsold the Detroit, Michigan contingent last year.

It was expected that Toyota will have to wait until the end of the year before it can claim the spot occupied by General Motors in 76 years. But recent figures quoted by the Detroit-based weekly publication Automotive News shows that Toyota has already toppled General Motors from its Number One spot since last year.

The publication reported that Toyota sold 128,000 units of automobiles more than General Motors last year. This development came after Automotive News found out that General Motors included in their sales output the number of vehicles sold by a Chinese company that they have a minority share in.

"A little-known Chinese microvan played a role in Toyota's victory," says the publication on its website. This refers to the seven-seat microvan manufactured by a three-way business enterprise composed of General Motors, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp and Liuzhou Wuling Automobile. General Motors included the number of vehicles sold by the venture under its own sales output even though it owns only a minor share.

Automotive News gave the credit of the 420,140 units that the business venture has sold to the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp since it owns 51 percent of the business entity. General Motors sale was then cut down to 8,679,860 units. This is less that Toyota's sales output of 8,808,000. This gives the number one spot to Toyota in terms of sale.

General Motors though insists that they have done the right thing by including the sales of Wuling-branded vehicles in their sales report. "We own a majority of the legally available shares of the company. It's completely integrated in our China strategy," says General Motors spokesman Tom Wilkinson. "That's why we count them," he added further.

With the ongoing trend, Toyota is looking to surpass General Motors both in sales and in production output. Even a very efficient brake component cannot stop the Japanese car manufacturer's climb to the top of the auto industry.

Analysts though agree that losing the top spot may be beneficial to General Motors. Aaron Bragman, a research analyst for Global Insight based in Troy, Michigan, is one of those who believe that losing to Toyota may be beneficial to the Detroit-based car manufacturer. "Losing the crown as the world's largest automaker could even end up benefiting General Motors," he said.

"There's nothing more motivational than losing your top stop. If it's going to take that to motivate the troops more than anything has already, I think it's a boon to the company," Bragman explained.

The title of being the world's largest car manufacturer though is based on the number of vehicle produced not by the number of vehicles sold by a particular car manufacturer. This means that General Motors is still the largest car manufacturer to date. The carmakers stay on the top though is expected to last only until the end of the year. General Motors expects to sell 9.2 million for this year while Toyota projects 9.34 million. That means that Toyota will be producing more automobiles to fill that projected demand.