For the first time in history, a foreign manufacturer has been the leader in car and truck sales in the United States. In 2021, Japan’s Toyota seized the job from General Motors, the automobile group that owns brands such as Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC, according to figures released Tuesday by both companies. Supply problems caused by the pandemic translated into a global shortage of computer chips, on which the auto industry is heavily dependent. GM was more impacted by this unforeseen scenario and sold 2.2 million vehicles, 5% less than the Japanese company.
Toyota increased its sales by around 10% compared to 2020 in the US, reaching 2.3 million vehicles. Those of General Motors, on the other hand, fell almost 13% in the same period of time. The Detroit conglomerate had been around since the early 1930s, when it overtook Ford, dominating the list of the best-selling cars in its country. Ford is slated to release its sales data this Wednesday and rank third on the list. Globally, Toyota dethroned GM in 2007, and for years they took turns at the top, until the Japanese definitively displaced the Detroit conglomerate and now competes with Volkswagen.
The shortage of semiconductors, on which the operation of the motor depends, or the locks of the doors, was unleashed when auto plants were forced to close to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Remote working, in turn, triggered the sale of computers and other electronic products, also disrupting the supply of chips, which continues to be in short supply. The world’s largest automaker was less affected than others because after the 2011 Japan earthquake, which left several production factories destroyed, it pursued a strategy of mass stockpiling key parts for emergencies.
The Japanese company has understood its achievement in the US as something circumstantial and is pessimistic about maintaining it. “To be clear, this is not our goal, nor do we see it as sustainable,” said Jack Hollis, Toyota’s senior vice president of North American operations, on Tuesday. In addition to the particular factors that influenced automotive production since the start of the pandemic, the Japanese company also has the problem that it has been slower than its competitors in adopting measures for the energy transition, an upward trend in the automotive industry. .
General Motors, for example, aims to manufacture only electric vehicles by 2035 to cope with Tesla, which leads that segment in the industry. The Californian brand increased its global sales nearly 90% in 2021, and its shares are worth far more than those of Toyota, GM, Ford, and other major automakers combined.
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