Toyota overtakes GM as America’s best-selling automaker

The Japanese automaker, which has struggled for decades to expand its presence in the United States, sold approximately 114,000 vehicles to GM in 2021. Toyota’s total sales in the United States of 2 , 3 million, were up about 10% from 2020, the company said on Tuesday.

In contrast, GM reported a nearly 13% drop in earnings for a total of 2.2 million vehicles sold in 2021, as the semiconductor shortage had a bigger impact on the company’s manufacturing operations. business and left dealerships with fewer vehicles to sell. GM has been the No. 1 car seller in the United States since 1931, according to trade publication Automotive News.

Toyota profited greatly from its decision to stockpile computer chips, which are used in a range of vehicle electronics. It bet earlier than most other automakers on a recovery in the US auto market and cut parts and production orders less sharply than its competitors, better preparing it for a possible increase in consumer demand.

While Toyota executives say they managed to overcome some of the supply chain constraints of the past year, they don’t see the lead over GM as a permanent change in the industry’s closely watched sales rankings. .

“To be clear, that’s not our goal, and we don’t see it as sustainable,” said Jack Hollis, senior vice president of Toyota operations in North America. He added that the company doesn’t expect to use its dethronement from GM last year in its advertising.

A GM spokesperson declined to comment on the company’s sales rankings. He said GM has prioritized its best-selling products – large pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles – and expects sales growth this year as the chip shortage subsides.

Other foreign automakers and electric car maker Tesla Inc.

TSLA -4.18%

It also increased its sales in the United States in 2021, siphoning off market share in Detroit, according to company reports and analyst forecasts.

Hyundai engine Co.

of South Korea, for the second year in a row, recorded significant market share gains, selling 738,081 vehicles in 2021 and increasing sales by about 19% from the previous year, the company said on Tuesday. Mazda engine Corp.

and Honda engine Co.

also recorded above-average sales last year, according to the company’s results.

Need more power? Fancy automated driving? Automakers like Dodge, Polestar, and Jeep are exploring live updates like these as a way to generate new revenue streams and build brand loyalty. George Downs of the WSJ is investigating whether automakers are good at software development. Photographic illustration: George Downs

Research firm Cox Automotive estimates that Tesla’s sales in the United States jumped 61% from the previous year, achieving the biggest percentage gain among automakers. Tesla does not allocate sales to the United States.

Overall, automakers sold just under 15 million vehicles in the United States last year, according to a forecast from research firm JD Power. That total is believed to be up slightly from 2020, when the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic hurt car sales for part of this year. But that’s a steep drop from the 17 million vehicle mark the industry had eclipsed for five consecutive years previously.

Auto stocks rallied on Tuesday after the latest sales results and news that Ford Motor Co.

plans to double the production of its new all-electric truck, after an increase in reservations.

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Ford‘s

the stock closed almost 12% higher on Tuesday. GM shares rose 7.5%, while Toyota’s U.S. certificates of deposit hit a new record high of $ 199.19, up nearly 7% at Tuesday’s close.

Vehicle sales in the United States hit a breakneck pace last spring as American car buyers surfaced, seeking to spend their savings from the pandemic lockdown on new wheels. But in the summer, the chip shortage that had hampered factory hours around the world resulted in near-bare dealer batches, dragging down sales in the second half of 2021.

Forecasters expect another moderate year of vehicle sales, although the chip shortage is expected to gradually ease in the coming months. Auto executives have said it could take a whole year to significantly replenish dealer inventories, which would likely reduce sales despite what dealers say is strong underlying demand.

Edmunds.com expects US sales to reach 15.2 million vehicles in 2022, up slightly from final numbers expected last year. RBC Capital analysts are more bullish, putting the total at around 15.8 million vehicles, with an increase expected later in the year as supply improves.

GM has been among the hardest hit by the chip shortage and other supply chain issues.


Photo:

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Toyota executives said they expected US auto sales to hit around 16.5 million vehicles this year, driven by historically low interest rates, record market performance and higher savings rates that would help support buyers.

High prices are expected to persist, as the seller’s market created by the inventory crisis continues, analysts said. The average price paid for a new vehicle hit a record $ 45,700 in December, up 20% from a year earlier, JD Power estimates.

Record prices for used vehicles are contributing to strong new car prices, JD Power said, as buyers who trade in their old vehicles have more money to work on. The average trade-in vehicle in December was worth about $ 10,200, down from about $ 4,600 a year earlier, the company said.

“Suppressed consumer demand will keep inventory levels near all-time lows,” which will likely lead to more record-breaking prices this year, said Thomas King, president of data and analytics at JD Power.

The uneven disruption of production schedules has blurred the pecking order among automakers in 2021. While chip shortages and other supply chain issues have affected all automakers, GM and Ford have been among the hardest hit, each having scrapped more than 600,000 vehicles planned in North America, according to research firm AutoForecast Solutions LLC.

Stellantis NV, the global automaker that owns Jeep, Ram and other auto brands sold in the United States, has also been disproportionately affected by the chip crisis. It said total US sales of around 1.78 million for 2021, down 2% from the previous year.

Ford plans to release 2021 sales results on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Dearborn, Mich., Automaker said it plans to double its manufacturing target for its new electric version of the F-150 pickup truck to 150,000 per year. Ford said the increased production plans reflect strong demand for the model, with around 200,000 reservations placed to purchase one of the trucks.

Other sales winners included Asian and European brands, as well as Tesla, which said on Sunday that global deliveries jumped 87% in 2021, to 936,000 vehicles. Tesla does not break down the sales figures at the regional level. Cox estimated that its market share in the United States fell from 1.4% to 2.2% last year, roughly the same with Mercedes-Benz.

Randy Parker, head of national sales for Hyundai Motor America, said the automaker has taken several steps to address market challenges, including relying more on online sales operations and encouraging dealers to align sales for vehicles that have not yet reached the lot.

He said he expects Hyundai to continue ramping up efforts through 2022, with the aim of building on its recent market share gains.

“I don’t believe in coincidences,” Mr. Parker said. “I think we have adapted extremely well to the crisis. ”

contributed to this article.

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Write to Mike Colias at [email protected] and Christina Rogers at [email protected]

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