Toyota replaces General Motors as America’s largest automaker

For the first time since 1931, General Motors was not the best-selling automaker in the United States


The Detroit-based company lost to Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corporation. Although sales fell 28% in the fourth quarter, the company’s sales increased 10% last year. Toyota’s sales in the US in 2021 were 2.3 million units, slightly higher than GM’s 2.2 million units.

The Japanese automaker said that it may be unsustainable to sell more than General Motors. “This is not our goal,” said Jack Hollis, senior vice president of Toyota’s US sales, in a conference call with reporters.


The changes at the top reflect the year’s volatility that many automakers are happy to leave behind. From chaotic shipping companies to semiconductor shortages, the challenges of 2021 will make it difficult for manufacturers to keep up with demand. Although industry-wide sales may increase slightly starting in 2020, supply constraints have dashed hopes for a rapid recovery from the downturn in the early stages of the pandemic.

According to the average forecast of six market researchers surveyed by Bloomberg, automakers may have sold approximately 12.5 million new cars in December, a 23% year-on-year decrease.


The chart shows the forecast of annual U.S. car sales based on a Bloomberg analyst survey

As most major automakers reported fourth-quarter and full-year U.S. sales, the severity of the problem became clearer on Tuesday. Ford Motor Company is expected to release its data on Wednesday.

According to data from Cox Automotive, annual car sales may reach 14.9 million vehicles, an increase of 2.5% from the days when the coronavirus is raging in 2020.


This year is not without bright spots. Inventory challenges have prompted some buyers to switch to more profitable models with a wealth of options, and the mainstream acceptance of electric vehicles has accelerated. In fact, Tesla Inc. exceeded Wall Street’s expectations on Sunday with a record quarterly global delivery.

It will be difficult for other automakers to achieve this performance. We will look at the results reported by major manufacturers throughout the day.

General Motors loses power

GM’s sales this year fell by 13%, dragged down by a 43% drop in the fourth quarter. During the quarter, Chevrolet Silverado’s sales fell by more than 30%, and GMC Sierra’s sales fell by 21%. The auto giant quickly blamed its troubles on chip constraints, saying they caused a 13% drag on sales.


This forces General Motors to have strategic significance for the places it specializes in supply. In a bleak quarter, the sales of Chevrolet Tahoe and suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade large SUVs all increased. These are the most profitable cars sold by the company.

Crucially for investors, General Motors said that semiconductor supply has improved before the end of the year, and the company expects to improve further in 2022.

Toyota takes over

Toyota’s strong performance in 2021 was boosted by sales of cars such as Corolla and Camry. Although the automaker’s best-selling model is still the RAV4, sales of this compact SUV actually fell by 5%. The sales of Corolla and Camry increased by 5% and 6.6% respectively.

Although the final statistics of the industry have not yet been released, Toyota may have increased its market share by 1 percentage point in the fourth quarter, accounting for 15.5% of sales, ranking first. This is the first time General Motors has not become No. 1 since it defeated Ford in 1931.

Honda Crossover leads delivery

Like Toyota, Honda Motor Company managed to increase sales this year despite a sharp decline at the end of the year. Sales in December fell 23% to 105,068 vehicles, while sales in 2021 increased 8.9% to 1.47 million vehicles.

Delivery of Honda’s Brave CR-V compact crossover increased by 8.3%. The Civic compact and Accord mid-size sedans also performed well, continuing the dominant position of the Asian brand in this market segment. Honda’s biggest winners include: Ridgeline pickup and Passport mid-size SUV, both of which have been redesigned to show a more “sturdy” appearance.

Modern cheap and chic

Hyundai Motor’s eponymous brand was one of the big winners last year, with sales increasing 19% year-on-year. However, the South Korean automaker did lose some momentum in the last few months of 2021, and deliveries in the fourth quarter fell by 15% to 152,446 vehicles. In December alone, its sales fell by 23%.

U.S. retail sales are the highest ever for the company, thanks to demand for budget-friendly Venue ultra-compact crossover models (starting at less than $20,000), as well as Kona ultra-compact SUVs and Tucson compact SUVs.

Randy Parker, senior vice president of Hyundai’s US sales, said that Hyundai’s inventory levels are comparable to Toyota and other Japanese competitors, but the supply has declined at the end of the year. The company adjusted by pushing dealers to sell more cars they don’t already own.

Parker said in an interview: “You do better in online retail, and you do better in pre-sale channels.” “This is exactly what we did, and it helped us in a very difficult year. achieved success.”

– With the assistance of Gabrielle Coppola and Keith Naughton.

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