There’s a new number one carmaker in America: Toyota, displacing General Motors from the top spot. This is the first time since 1931 that GM is not on top in the US. Toyota reported vehicle sales of 2.332 million vehicles for 2021, narrowly overtaking GM’s 2.2 milion vehicles.
Toyota’s sales represent a 10.3 percent increase from its 2020 performance. This was despite a steep decline in its fourth quarter sales due to supply chain problems, mainly a shortage in semiconductors. The company’s luxury division Lexus likewise posted a 10.7 percent increase for the year, despite a 37.1 decline in December.
GM’s sales were also hampered by supply issues. The company attributed its steep drop in sales particularly for the fourth quarter to the semiconductor shortage. Many carmakers cut back on their chip orders at the start of the 2020 pandemic, only to be caught off-guard by the strong demand for vehicles. By the time the carmakers started ordering more chips, the production capacity had already been committed to makers of electronic gadgets, which also experienced strong demand. Many carmakers experienced factory stoppages due to the shortage in 2021.
GM sees sales climbing rapidly as it resolves its supply chain issues, and it’s likely that it will return to the top spot on the back of strong demand for its trucks and SUVs. Toyota has even admitted that it may not stay long at the number one spot. In any case, the Japanese carmakers have seldom been focused on getting market share at the cost of profitability.
Toyota highlighted the sales performance of the Camry, RAV4, Highlander, Sienna, Tacoma and Lexus NX; they were the best-selling models in their respective segments. Toyota retained its position as the top-selling maker of electrified vehicles, mainly hybrids, for the 22nd consecutive year. It sold more than half a million hybrids, plug-ins and fuel-cell vehicles in 2021. Electrified vehicles account for one fourth of Toyota’s total volume.
IN PHOTO: A Toyota sign is displayed at a dealership on January 04, 2022 in Houston, Texas. Toyota Motor Corp has been ranked the No. 1 automaker in America after surpassing General Motors in auto sales for the first time since 1931. Automakers reported Toyota having sold 2.332 million vehicles in the United States, in 2021, compared to 2.218 million for General Motors. Brandon Bell/Getty Images/Agence France Presse