Sunday, November 2, 2008

Old News Of The Day: Toyota Tops GM

(First published in TheTruthAboutCars on November 1, 2008)

“Toyota Motor Corp. trumped General Motors (GM) in total car sales during the first nine months of 2008 to become the world’s top car producer for the first time,” the Mainichi Shimbun reports from Tokyo. “Huh,” say you, “hasn’t ToMoCo trampled GM already?” Not exactly, and not officially. But they are kicking ass and GM to the bottom. Unstoppably, one may add.

“GM’s sales between January and September in 2008 were down 5.8 percent to 6,655,751, according to figures released by the company on Wednesday. Toyota’s sales for the same period, including those of subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors, were 7,051,029, almost unchanged from last year,” writes the Tokyo broadsheet with a kuso-eating grin on their faces, in the same sentence dispelling rumors that ToMoCo had contracted the galloping auto trade tuberculosis. [NB: Mainichi is one of the top three Nipponese papers,thick with Japanese politicos. Two of Mainichi’s CEOs became Prime Ministers of the Land of the Rising Corolla.]

Officially, and unbelievably, GM is still the world’s largest automaker. The official score keeper of all things auto is the oddly French-named “Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles,” better known as OICA. In OICA’s 2007 tally of units sold, GM had edged-out Toyota by 800k units, and by creative bookkeeping, such as counting sales of companies where they had only a minority share. Immediately, Toyota shouted “foul!” (Politely.) They pointed to 9,497,754 units Toyota had made (as in produced) worldwide in 2007, versus 9,349,818 made by GM. Be it as it may, in the world according to OICA, GM is still the top dog until the fat lady sings the aria of the 2008 numbers.

With a deep bow towards Detroit, the Mainichi scribes now rub it in slicker than a Tokyo oily massage: “And while GM just beat out Toyota in total sales over 2007 as a whole, good first half figures and a relatively soft blow from the economic crisis compared to its American rival mean that Toyota is set to take the top spot this year.” You bet your ketsu they will.

(Picture courtesy of Thank you!)

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