APRIL 24, 2007

Toyota goes number one

General Motors has been the world's largest car company since it overtook Ford back in 1931 but this year the reign of Detroit has come to an end with Toyota reporting a nine percent increase in the first three months of the year to record sales of 2.35m compared to GM's 2.26m. This means that Toyota is on course for sales of at least 9.4m cars this year, while GM is aiming for 9.1m.

Toyota's growth came internationally, particularly in the United States, while vehicle sales in Japan continued to fall across the board., recording the lowest level for 29 years. Toyota's domestic sales dropped 12%.

GM still has a 22% share of the US market compared to Ford's 17% and Toyota's 16% but Toyota's US sales were up 12% and it is gaining market share all the time.

GM has however shown strong growth in the non-US markets with increases in Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. GM hopes that new production plants outside the US and more glogal sales could keep it on a par with Toyota, despite layoffs and plant closures in the United States.

Given the markets involved, one might wonder whether GM should be considering an involvement in F1, rather than pouring large sums of money into NASCAR.