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Toyota retakes global auto sales crown from GM
Question of the Day
The Japanese company sold 9.7 million cars and trucks worldwide in 2012, although it’s still counting. GM sold 9.29 million.
Both companies saw higher sales, but Toyota’s growth was far larger as it rolled out new versions of popular models such as the Camry. GM executives promised sales growth this year, especially in the U.S. Both companies say publicly that they don’t care about who wins, but they concede that the crown is an important morale booster for employees.
GM was the top-selling carmaker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008. But GM retook the sales crown in 2011 when Toyota’s factories were slowed by an earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The disaster left Toyota dealers with few cars to sell. The company has since recovered.
Toyota’s comeback from the earthquake and from flooding in Thailand is only part of the story, said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive, a Detroit-area industry forecasting firm. The company also has freshened up its stale midsize sedan, the Camry, the top-selling car in the United States.
“I think that’s going to be enough to keep them in their position,” he says.
Toyota builds 70 percent of the cars it sells in the U.S. in North America, including the Corolla.
Volkswagen, with big sellers such as the Passat midsize sedan and Jetta compact, closed in on GM with an 11 percent sales increase across the globe. The United States, where VW Group sales rose 34 percent, led the way.
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