Toyota finally takes “World’s Largest Automaker” crown

It’s a sad day in Michigan. GM has officially lost the title of “World’s Largest Automaker” to Toyota.

This is by no means unexpected. If anything, it took Toyota a little longer than many had predicted — thanks gas prices pulling back last year, causing hybrids to lag and SUV/truck sales to gain. But three-dollar fuel prices are now a reality again, meaning Toyota’s fuel sipping lineup is selling better than the gas-challenged lineup over at the General.

Toyota’s three month sales were 2.348 million units. GM’s were 2.26 million. Furthermore, since these numbers only represent sales to dealers, one must also consider dealer inventory and factory rebates, which are used to help dealers sell these vehicles. While the inventory number is not available for the period, one only had to watch television advertisements to see that GM’s rebates were much deeper that Toyota’s. Heck, even the North America Car of the Year recipient, Saturn Aura, was offered near interest-free for a period of many weeks.

The longer fuel prices stay high, the less likely it is for GM to ever see the title again.

It will be interesting to see how important the World’s Largest Automaker title is to GM. They could make another serious play for Chrysler and regain the title. This would prove as a pure ego play, since no analyst has found a good business case for a GM/Chrysler merger.

Sadly, the easiest way for GM to regain the title is to continue making bad business and product decisions. Eventually, the company’s value will be so low, Toyota will absorb them.

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