What if the big winner from the difficulties the auto industry is currently going through was Toyota (MT) – Get the Toyota Motor Corp report.?
The Japanese automaker seems to be off the radar. This position seems to suit the company. It’s as if the manufacturer of Corolla and Camry sedans likes the spotlight to be shone on its main rivals and that in the meantime the group concentrates on its activities.
Since the start of the year, the focus has been on Tesla (TSLA) – Get the Tesla Inc reportford (F) – Get the Ford Motor Company reportGM (GM) – Get the General Motors Company Reportvolkswagen (VWAGY) – Get the Volkswagen AG report and also on new players like Rivian (BANK) – Get the Class A report from Rivian Automotive, Inc.Lucid (LCID) – Get the report from Lucid Group, Inc.Nicholas (NKLA) – Get the Nikola Corporation Report. Their announcements in electric vehicles punctuate the daily life of the automotive industry. We would have almost forgotten that in 2021, Toyota put an end to the domination of the American automobile market by GM.
After 90 years of undisputed dominance, General Motors has reclaimed its crown as America’s No. 1 automaker. The Detroit automaker has been the nation’s biggest vehicle seller since 1931, when it overtook Ford.
Toyota Motor sold 2.3 million vehicles in the United States in 2021, up 10.4% from 2020, compared to GM’s 2.2 million, down 13%.
Critics of the Japanese manufacturer and supporters of the Detroit group had stressed that it was only temporary.
Toyota sells more cars in the US than GM
However, three months later, Toyota has just repeated the feat.
The automaker sold 514,592 vehicles in the first quarter of 2022 on American soil. That number, however, is down 14.7% from the same period in 2021 but that’s good enough to keep GM at bay. GM sold just 512,846 cars, down 20%, in the United States in the first three months of the year, according to a press release.
As often, the Japanese manufacturer did not take a lap of honor.
“We thank our loyal customers for their continued trust in the Toyota and Lexus brands and their patience as we work around the clock to ensure their needs are met,” said Jack Hollis, Senior Vice President, Automotive Operations. “As we work through ever-changing market dynamics, our customers can rely on our diverse lineup of sedans, trucks, utility and electrified vehicles for their lifestyle.”
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GM attributes its second place to shortages of parts needed to assemble some models and disruptions to supply chains. But to be clear, Toyota faces the same issues. However, the Japanese group seems to manage its stock better, which allows it to limit the negative impact.
“Supply chain disruptions are not entirely behind us, but we expect to continue to exceed 2021 production levels, particularly in the second half,” said Steve Carlisle, GM executive vice president and president. North America.
Hybrid cars versus EV
It wouldn’t be surprising if Toyota cemented its title as the largest vehicle seller in the United States in the second quarter, as the same factors that held GM back still seem to be in place and have even worsened.
General Motors will cancel production during the week of April 4 at Lansing Grand River Assembly, where it builds the Cadillac CT4, Cadillac CT5 and Chevrolet Camaro, due to a temporary parts shortage.
The company will also halt production for a few weeks at an assembly plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which builds the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickup trucks due to shortages of semiconductor chips.
The prices of raw materials such as nickel, palladium and aluminum remain very high, which complicates their supply because there is an imbalance between supply and demand. All three elements help make catalytic converters, air conditioner condensers, and other essential automotive parts.
“GM expects inventory to remain relatively low throughout the year due to strong demand,” the company warned Friday.
But, Toyota also sees its bet on paying hybrid vehicles, while GM has made the choice of all-electric.
Sales of Toyota’s gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, which now account for more than a quarter of the group’s sales, fell just 3.9% to 132,938 units in the first quarter, as consumers, faced with the rising gasoline and diesel prices are turning to alternatives.
Conversely, GM only delivered 457 electric vehicles during the first quarter, despite a well-filled order book. Sales are split between the GMC Hummer electric pickup (99 units) and the Chevy Bolt EV/Bolt EUV (358 units).
These low numbers are due to GM suspending production of the Chevy Bolt EV/SUV Bolt EUV for several months. Production is expected to resume on April 4.