Logo on a Toyota Camry Hybrid (archive image)
Photo: Anushree Fadnavis / REUTERS
For the first time in 90 years, the US automaker General Motors is no longer the market leader in its home country.
The Detroit-based company sold 2.2 million cars in 2021 as a whole, making it only number two.
The top position was taken by the Japanese manufacturer Toyota with a total of 2.3 million vehicles sold.
In 2020, GM was still far ahead.
The reason for the change at the top is the lack of chips: This hit GM hard, with car sales falling by 13 percent for the year as a whole. Toyota, on the other hand, came through the crisis better than many other car manufacturers and was able to increase sales in the USA by a good ten percent. Shaped by the experience after the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese have been relying on higher stocks for years and have thus been able to cushion the distortions in the supply chain better than the competition.
Accordingly, the change at the top of the market is unlikely to last, said Jessica Caldwell, auto analyst at Edmunds. She pointed out that GM has a larger range and unites more brands than the Japanese. GM has been the undisputed number one in the US market since 1931, according to data from the industry journal Automotive News. At that time, the company had pushed its US competitor Ford from the throne.
Under the leadership of CEO Mary Barra, GM recently put profitability over volume and withdrew from loss-making markets such as Europe and Russia.
A GM spokesman also pointed out that sales of profit generators such as large SUVs or pickup trucks are strong.
As soon as the supply situation with chips improves, overall sales will pick up again.
"If I were Toyota, I wouldn't get a winning tattoo now," he said.
Toyota took the victory in the race for the top position accordingly calmly: The company is "grateful" for its loyal customers, said top manager Jack Hollis.
But it is not a priority to become number one.
Overall, experts reckon that around 15 million cars will be sold on the US market in 2021 - between 2015 and 2019 the average was 17.3 million.
At the same time, car buyers are prepared to pay significantly higher prices.
According to calculations by Edmunds analysts, new cars cost an average of $ 45,872 in November - almost $ 6,000 more than in November 2020 and more than ever before.
dab / Reuters