General Motors outsold Toyota for the first time in six quarters, rising atop the industry and underscoring the resurgence of US automakers.
The 2.48 million vehicles that Toyota and its subsidiaries sold during the quarter ended June, based on monthly figures was short of the 2.49 million that Detroit-based GM disclosed earlier this month. Toyota stayed ahead of Volkswagen, which sold 2.39 million vehicles last quarter.
GM’s rise to the top of the global industry capped a week in which the maker of Chevrolet cars and Ford posted earnings that beat analyst estimates. In contrast, the Japanese automaker saw its deliveries drop, reflecting Toyota’s reliance on a home market where demand is falling and underperformance in China where it’s recovering from a consumer backlash.
The US market this year is coming back but the competition is getting harsher, said Yoshiaki Kawano, an analyst at IHS Automotive in Tokyo. GM and other US carmakers had the biggest tailwind from the strong US economy. In China, Toyota is recovering but not fully recovered.
Sales in the first six months of this year dropped 1.2% to 4.91 million units. GM sold 4.85 million vehicles in the first half and Volkswagen delivered 4.7 million, according to the companies.
Toyota has been projecting since late December that sales will climb to almost 10 million units, a milestone no automaker has ever breached in 2013.
Japan’s largest manufacturer has an ever bigger buffer in the Yen, whose decline has been bolstering the value of Japanese exports. The Yen has weakened more than 12% against the dollar this year and in late July traded at 100 versus the greenback.
Nissan, which reported a 14% increase in profit, has taken advantage of favourable exchange rates by cutting prices of seven models in the US, including its top-selling Altima sedan. Nissan, Japan’s second-largest carmaker saw deliveries surge 20% last quarter.
In Europe, where demand is slumping to its lowest level in two decades, sales of Toyota and Lexus cars last quarter were little changed from a yea
r earlier, at 215,734 units. That helped the firm keep its market share at about 4.5%.
In 2008, Toyota ended GM’s 77-year reign as the world’s largest automaker, holding on to the top annual sales spot until 2011, when it surrendered the title after production was disrupted by natural disasters in Japan and Thailand. Sales rebounded in 2012, allowing the Toyota to deliver 9.75 million units and regain its global No. 1 title as the recession receded, while it added products and was spared from disruptions from natural disasters.