Japan's Toyota Motor Corporation moved a step closer to unseating rival General
Motors Corporation of the US as the world's biggest automaker when it outsold
the latter by around 90,000 vehicles in the first quarter of the current year.
While both Toyota and General Motors reported record sales for January-March,
Japan's top carmaker inched past GM as it ate into the home market share of the
Toyota, maker of the Camry sedan, the most popular
car in the US, said its global vehicle sales rose 9 per cent in the quarter to
2.35 million units. That compares with a three per cent rise in GM's first quarter
sales at 2.26 million units.
GM, which sells cars and trucks under a
dozen brands, including Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Opel and Saab, said last
week put its global market share at around 13.0 per cent, down a tenth of a percentage
point from a year ago.
The Lexus luxury brand and the youth-oriented
Scion badge, as well as vehicles led Toyota's challenge from units Daihatsu Motor
Co. and Hino Motors Ltd.
Toyota has hooked customers around the world
with affordable cars that are reliable, durable and fuel-efficient, while GM continued
to rely heavily on high-margin but gas-guzzling vehicles to pull it out of financial
difficulties. GM's significant growth has been confined to the Chinese market.
Toyota is adding production capacity the world over with an internal
goal of taking 15 per cent of the global car market by 2010.
its share in the first quarter at 13.0 per cent, down one-tenth of a percentage
point from a year ago.
This year, Toyota group has plans to sell 9.34
million vehicles, up six per cent from 2006. GM does not provide a global sales
Meanwhile, Toyota last year had to recall over a million vehicles
in Japan and 760,000 in the United States, which raised concerns that the company
was stretching itself too thin too fast. Toyota has in fact stepped up its quality
vigil, assigning two executive vice presidents to oversee the effort.
dwarfs its rivals in almost every measure, including profits, market capitalisation
and cash reserves. Its market capitalisation, at $225 billion, is more than 12
times that of GM's.
Toyota expects to post a net profit of 1.55 trillion
yen ($13 billion) for the business year ended March, probably more than any Japanese
company, while GM is struggling to make money. It lost $3 billion in 2006 and
$12 billion the year before.
Toyota, which is aggressively marketing
new models all over the world, has been
widely expected to challenge 99-year-old GM this year for the top spot in global
sales -- a position the US carmaker has held for 76 years.