July 23, 2008

Toyota Leads Global Sales; GM Sets Records Outside U.S.

Toyota Motor Corp. beat General Motors Corp. by 300,000 units in worldwide sales for the first half of the year for the second year in a row as sales declines in North America eclipsed record-breaking sales in the world's emerging markets.

Toyota today reported sales of 4.8 million through June, up 2% from a year ago, and nearly 300,000 units greater than GM's first-half sales. GM reported sales of 4.5 million vehicles in the same period, down 5% from a year ago. GM's sales numbers include the full sales of its joint ventures in China.

Toyota beat GM by a smaller 50,000 unit margin in the first half of 2007, too. But GM went on to hold onto the title of world's largest automaker for the year, edging out Toyota by 3,000 units, when its Chinese joint venture sales were included.

For the second quarter of 2008, GM reported sales of more than 2.28 million vehicles, down 5% from a year ago, while Toyota reported preliminary second-quarter sales of 2.41 million, up 1.8% from a year ago.

GM reported record-setting sales performances in Europe, Asia Pacific and its Latin America, Africa and the Middle East divisions during the second quarter, but said they were not enough to offset difficulties in the United States.

While GM's sales outside of North America grew 10% for the quarter, compared with the same period in 2007, its total sales fell 5% compared with a year earlier because of the declining sales market in North America.

GM blamed "continuing economic pressures and labor disruptions in the U.S. market" for pushing North American sales down 20% for the quarter compared with a year earlier.

North American auto sales have fallen across the industry as a weak U.S. economy and high fuel prices have led to a decline in total sales and a shift to more fuel-efficient cars and crossovers from the large trucks and SUVs that have historically been so profitable in North America.