For the first time since 2008, General Motors may take regain the number-one sales position back from Toyota. The Japanese automaker’s dominance may slip by the wayside in wake of extensive global recalls, diminished output in wake of a domestic earthquake, and GM’s increased strength, particularly in emerging markets.
GM has been on the offensive with new product ever since emergingfrom its bankruptcy in 2009, with many of its latest releases winning awards from industry experts and ranking above Toyota’s comparable offerings.The company also has a raft of brand-new product that it will be rolling out within the coming months, including the 2013 Malibu midsized sedan that will be built and sold globally.
GM also has a sizable footprint in China, and plans on expanding its presence to capitalize on the growing market. The automaker pledged a $5 billion investment in its operations its operations there to help meet a goal of 5 million vehicles sold in China by 2015. The automaker is well on its way, having just sold the three millionth Buick in China since launching the brand there in 1999. GM is also working with local partners SAIC and Wuling to create Baojun, a low-cost sub-brand for the Chinese market.
Toyota’s upper hand appears to have slipped over the past few years. While it may have taken the global sales crown, it only eclipsed GM by approximately 33,000 units in 2010. In its quest to become the biggest automaker in the world, consumers have seen witnessed company’s once-legendary quality stumble. Subsequently, a Harris International poll of Toyota’s corporate rating has seen the automaker drop from 20th place out of 60 firms to the 43rd slot. This comes after waves of recalls for over 10 million of vehicles, the largest of which centered on sticking accelerator pedals and floormats.
Toyota is also expected to lose sales largely because it’s lost a significant chunk of its production and supply base. Japan’s earthquake, which struck on March 11, shuttered factories and suppliers, and to this day affects just how many cars Toyota can roll down its assembly lines on a daily basis. The automaker will not return to full production until November of this year and expects to lose approximately 500,000 units in production this year.
So, is this good news for GM? Perhaps, if bigger is, in fact, better, but industry analysts insist companies need to be weary of earning that top spot. Sean McAlinden, chief economist for the Center of Automotive Research, told Automotive News
However, industry analysts tell companies to be weary of being in the top spot — while speaking with Automotive News, chief economist for the Center for Automotive Research Sean McAlinden noted how Toyota ran into quality problems after assuming the number one spot, and before it, GM relied on heavy incentives — which boosted sales but crippled profits — to achieve the metric. Perhaps it’s true: the larger they are, the harder they fall…
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)