Toyota becomes best-selling manufacturer in US for first time

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Toyota has become the best-selling car manufacturer in the US, ending General Motors’ 90-year domination of the market.

The Japanese giant sold more than 2.3 million vehicles there in 2021 – a 10% increase on the previous year and 100,000 more than GM, which had held the top spot in its home country since 1931.

Toyota’s success was led by the Corolla, sales of which increased by 5%, and the Camry, which rose 6.6%. However, its most popular car in the US, the RAV4, dropped in sales by 5% year on year.

Sales of GM vehicles dropped 13% to 2.2 million following a 43% drop in the final quarter, with the usually popular Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck suffering a 30% drop in sales.

GM suggested that the global semiconductor crisis was to blame.

Toyota’s success is believed to be attributed to its global supply-chain preparation and stockpiling before shortages gripped the automotive industry.

The Japanese firm maintained its orders and supplies when Covid-19 initially hit, whereas other manufacturers cancelled or reduced their supplies.

Toyota says it will be difficult to maintain its position as number one in the US once supply-chain issues are resolved and expects competitors to regain ground.

“That is not our goal,” said Jack Hollis, senior vice-president of Toyota’s US sales division, on outselling GM.

“Being number one is never a focus or priority,” Hollis added on a conference call to reporters, but maintained that the brand was “grateful.”

Meanwhile, GM says it will bounce back after a year that was still healthy in terms of sales.

“I wouldn’t rush out if I were [Toyota] and get a ‘we’re number one’ tattoo,” said GM spokesman Jim Cain.

GM will focus on profitability instead of outright sales numbers following its departure from selling vehicles in Europe and Russia, where it’s instead moving to mobility solutions.

Jack Warrick

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