Toyota tops GM in U.S. sales for first time ever — but there’s a catch – Greater Milwaukee Today

January 5, 2022 by No Comments

On Tuesday, GM and Toyota both reported fourthquarter and full-year new car sales results and, as many analysts predicted, Toyota outsold GM in both categories. GM has been the market leader since the Great Depression, according to Automotive News.

GM reported its fourth-quarter sales plummeted 43% to 440,745 vehicles sold compared with the year-ago quarter. For the full year, GM’s new vehicle sales in the U.S. declined 13% to 2.2 million new cars sold.

Meanwhile, Toyota reported it sold 474,378 new vehicles in the fourth quarter, down 28% from the year-ago period. For the full year, it sold 2.3 million vehicles, a 10.4% gain from 2020. Toyota’s biggest sellers were the Camry sedan, the RAV4 and Highlander SUVs and the Tacoma pickup.

But Toyota’s win is likely an anomaly, said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of Insights for Edmunds.

“(Toyota) shouldn’t get too comfortable in the top spot,” Caldwell said. “It’s unlikely that this will happen again since 2021 was an extraordinarily unusual year.”

All automakers struggled in 2021 to keep new-car production running amid the chip shortage that started in February.

GM took severe hits to new-vehicle sales in the second half due to low inventory and production delays as the automaker awaited chip parts. The chips are a key component in a variety of car parts.

To keep inventory flowing, GM made certain vehicles without some amenities such as wireless charging technology or Automatic Stop/Start, the feature that turns off the engine when a driver stops at an intersection and then automatically restarts it when the driver steps on the throttle.

But GM had some bright spots in the quarter and for the full year especially with its strategy to direct whatever chip parts it could get to the plants that make its more profitable vehicles. Those include big SUVs such as the Cadillac Escalade and its full-size pickups.

Toyota’s success comes from managing tight inventory well all year, said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Cox Automotive.

And it had solid sales in its Toyota brand as well as its luxury brand Lexus, she said.

Toyota stockpiled computer chips, too, which helped it avoid some of the production pitfalls that hit the Detroit Three early in the chip shortage, Krebs said.

“However, the chip shortage did catch up with Toyota by fall when it massively cut global production,” Krebs said. “What became clear during the year as well is that Toyota has an extremely efficient distribution system that allows it to increase sales even when it has among the lowest inventories.”



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