Toyota Keeps Slim Lead Over GM in 2010 Toyota Motor (TM) managed to hold onto the title of world's No. 1 automaker last year, despite numerous safety recalls that took a toll on its sales.

Toyota, which saw its sales rise 8% last year despite its recall woes, sold 8.42 million vehicles worldwide in 2010, news agencies reported Monday. That was enough to barely edge out a resurgent General Motors (GM), which rang up sales of 8.39 million, a 12.2% increase from the previous year. Toyota surpassed GM in 2008 as the world's largest supplier of motor vehicles.

GM fell about 28,000 vehicles shy of surpassing Toyota in 2010, compared to a difference of some 330,000 vehicles in 2009, Dow Jones Newswires reported. Strong sales in China, where Toyota has less of a foothold, helped Detroit-based GM to narrow the sales gap with its Japanese rival.

GM's sales soared 29% in China, home to the world's largest car market, surpassing Toyota's 19% gain there, Reuters reported. In the U.S., GM saw its sales grow 6.3% last year, slower than the industry average but ahead of those of Toyota, which were flat last year.

"Looking at the current sales momentum, it's hard to say whether Toyota will be able to keep its top position for a fourth straight year" in 2011, Mamoru Kato, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center, told Dow Jones.

GM and Ford Come On Strong

Although its sales rose in 2010, Toyota struggled throughout much of the year due to massive safety recalls of cars, trucks and SUVs worldwide. Overall, the carmaker recalled some 8.5 million vehicles, mostly to repair problems related to sudden unintended acceleration, for which Toyota faces numerous lawsuits. The company's behavior regarding the recalls led to nearly $50 million in fines from U.S. regulators.

After submitting to a government-sponsored bankruptcy in 2009, GM rallied back in 2010, completing a successful initial public offering of stock in November that substantially reduced the U.S. Treasury's stake in the company. The federal government now holds less than a third of GM's shares.

Though Toyota barely edged out GM in total sales, the Japanese automaker remained well ahead of Germany's Volkswagen, which seeks to supplant Toyota as the world's largest automaker by 2018. Volkswagen said earlier this month its sales rose by about 14% to 7.14 million vehicles, Dow Jones reported.

GM is expected to maintain its sales momentum in its domestic market this year as the U.S. economy regains steam. Toyota, meanwhile, continues its effort to recover from the recalls that drove many consumers into showrooms of its rivals. Last year, Ford Motor (F) outsold Toyota nearly every month and regained the No. 2 spot in the U.S. in total yearly sales for the first time in three years.

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It looks like the market has spoken. Even with the recalls, Toyota's sales are rebounding. It's good to see GM and Chrysler recovering, too, though they should be more concerned with repaying the taxpayers than giving out bonuses.

February 15 2011 at 11:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mike edwards

theres nothing american about a buick reagal other than the name the ceos of gm have been using us for years while they make millions and line there pockets that car is built in germany like many of components of there cars its a shame how the ceos work the system and lie to tha american public ford has its biggest assembly plant in brazil and claim they will never build another plant in the usa again now thats patrotic put a ford in your driveway built in brazil or mexico just what is american made you tell me

January 24 2011 at 1:55 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mike edwards's comment

Somehow, it's more patriotic to subsidize a UAW worker for GM than it is to support a nonunion BMW worker in South Carolina, or Hyundai, or Toyota, or Honda, or Nissan, etc.

February 15 2011 at 11:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Toyota will soon regain the #1 spot. GM only has 1 new product in the pipeline for the next 2 years. GM still gets most of its revenue from gas-hog trucks and suv's. Wait till gas hits $4 again. GM still has a bloated beaucratic organization. The nimble Koreans are eating more and more of the domestic makers', and even the the Japanese makers', lunch. The gov needs to dump the shares of GM before they get sold short. Meet the new GM...same as the old GM.

January 24 2011 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

GM will regain the top spot in global sales in 2011. In the US, people are buying American cars again in ever larger numbers. After what our economy has went through the last couple of years, I think more Americans want to support OUR country. Let`s face it, foreign autos in your driveway don`t look very patriotic.

January 24 2011 at 11:06 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply