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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota Motor Corporation has clung to the number one global automotive sales position by its fingernails, holding off a resurgent General Motors by just 28,000 vehicles in 2010.

Toyota – including Daihatsu, Hino Motors, Lexus, Scion and Toyota – recorded 8.418 million sales in 2010, ahead of General Motors – which includes Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Daewoo, GMC, Holden, Opel and Vauxhall, and until last year, GM Goodwrench, Hummer, Pontiac, Saab and Saturn.

Toyota’s sales increased eight percent over 2009 while General Motors enjoyed a 12 percent year-on-year surge. In China, the world’s largest new vehicle market, Toyota’s sales increased 19 percent, well behind GM’s 29 percent increase.

Former Holden Chairman and managing director, now General Motors North America President, Mark Reuss, played down the brand’s ambitions to return to the top of the sales charts – a position it held for 76 years before it was overtaken by Toyota in 2008.

“Satisfying and retaining our customers and delivering world-class products is pretty much the fundamental business that we’re in,” Mr Reuss told AP. “The rest of it may come, may not.”

Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco likewise said the top spot was not important, and admitted the company needed to focus on proving the reliability and safety of its vehicles to consumers, after the brand went through its most extensive recalls in history in 2010.

“Being number one in term of sales is not important for us,” Mr Nolasco told AFP. “Our objective is to become number one with the customer, in terms of service and customer satisfaction.”

One brand not shy about its intentions to take the top spot is third-placed Volkswagen AG, which closed the gap with 14 percent growth and 7.14 million total vehicle sales – shared between Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Scania, Seat, Skoda, and Volkswagen passenger cars and commercial vehicles.




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