Yesterday General Motors announced its worldwide sales figures for 2008, and in doing so made it official that the U.S. automaker is no longer the highest volume seller in the world. That title now belongs to Toyota.
The two companies have traded places several times over the past two years on who has sold more cars in a month or in a quarter but this is the first time Toyota has taken the lead for an entire fiscal year.
Toyota’s victory is really a silver lining that has a large dark cloud attached to it, as the title comes to Toyota during difficult times. In fact, both Toyota and General Motors posted huge decreases in volume in 2008, it’s just that GM’s decline was more significant.
In 2008 GM sold 8.36 million veicles, compared to Toyota’s 8.97 million annual sales. The overall volume decline for the General was 10.8 percent compared to a drop in sales of four percent by Toyota.
In the North American market GM dropped 21.1 percent, too much to make up for increases sales of 3.2 percent in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Impressively GM even registered an increase in Toyota’s own back yard, posting a 2.7 percent increase in the Asia-Pacific region.
Specifically in the US, GM saw a decline of 22.7 percent in 2008, compared to Toyota’s loss of 15.4 percent.
2008 marks the first time in 77 years that General Motors has not held the title of world’s largest automaker.