Toyota Closes In On GM's Throne

The Toyota Motor Corp. is closing in on General Motors Corp. as the world's biggest vehicle maker. That is what its sales are telling the industry. In February, Toyota's global production increased for the 28th straight month. The company reported a global output totaling 680,968 vehicles in February. The number increased by 0.9 percent from the same month last year.

The production edged up 1.5 percent to 311,167 units to mark the 62nd straight month of increase in favor of Toyota. In Japan, the automaker's output increased by 0.4 percent to 369,801 vehicles to mark the 18th straight month of increase and a remarkable record for February. In 2006, Toyota's global output increased by ten percent to 9.018 million vehicles, to bring the automaker closer to Detroit-based GM. The latter has produced 9.18 million vehicles worldwide in the previous year.

The rising gasoline prices have pushed the consumers to fuel-efficient cars like the Toyota Prius hybrid and the midsize Camry, which is the best-selling car in the United States market.

"It's not surprising at all. When it comes to automobiles, consumers want the best quality at an affordable price with good gas mileage," said Arrowhead Asset Management's Rocky Boschert, who counts Toyota and Honda Motor Corp. for the worldwide No. 2 spot back in 2003, and reportedly Ford already has conceded its place behind GM, the throne its has enjoyed since the late 1920s, to Toyota in the United States for this year.

David Cole, the chairman for the Center for Automotive Research, was previously quoted saying: "We're going to have a real donnybrook between GM and Toyota next year, and it'll shake up the entire industry. But the prize for investors remains the bottom line. Titles are nice and all, but profitability and sustainability are what's really important. Big can be good, but you can also go broke."

But GM said it will defend its throne. "We're focused on remaking GM into a more competitive, leaner company that can generate profits on a sustained basis," said GM spokesman Brian Akre. "We won't alter our North America turnaround plan or sacrifice our profitability for the sake of one superlative."

Other Japanese automakers are also showing significant milestones in the global auto market arena. Honda Motor Co., Japan's second-largest automaker, said its global production rose 5.6 percent to 301,897 units in the 19th month of increase and a record for February. The automakers domestic output increased by 8.6 percent to 115,460 vehicles for a ninth consecutive month, while overseas production rose 3.8 percent to 186,437 units.

The Nissan Motor Co., on the other hand, said that its global production fell 3.1 percent to 282,542 vehicles in February. The automaker, which has an alliance with Renault SA of France, added that overseas output inched down 0.1 percent to 172,293 vehicles and its domestic production dropped 7.5 percent to 110,249 units.

In the United States, Nissan's production rose for the new Altima sedan but the reduced output of other models resulted in a 15.6 percent fall to 58,173 vehicles there. The Altima sedan boasts lots of exciting features and auto parts that include Nissan engine mounts.

Mazda Motor Corp. reported its global output fell 5.2 percent to 110,448 units in February. The automaker rolled out 30,873 vehicles at its overseas plants, down 11.5 percent, while domestic production plummeted by 2.6 percent to 79,575 units. In addition, Production at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. decreased by 4.6 percent to 114,724 vehicles. It also reported a 19.2 percent drop in overseas production offsetting a 6.0 percent gain in domestic production.

About the Author

Ryan Thomas is a native of Denver, Colorado. He grew up in a family of car afficionados. He now resides in Detroit where he owns a service shop and works part time as a consultant for a local automotive magazine.

Author: Ryan Thomas