General Motors reclaimed the crown of world’s largest automaker in 2011, but a resurgent Toyota pushed it back to No. 2 in the first quarter of the race for the 2012 crown.
According to Bloomberg News, Toyota sold 2.49 million vehicles worldwide from January through March, vs. 2.28 million for GM.
They both should be watching their rear view mirrors, though. Volkswagen, which has made a company goal to be the top dog in sales by 2018, is roaring up behind them fast, selling 2.16 million in the quarter, according to Bloomberg.
Toyota reigned for three years, passing GM as the Detroit giant stumbled toward bankruptcy court, but last year it dropped to 7.9 million sales — passed not only by GM (9.03 million sales) but also VW (8.16 million) — as the hangover from its massive 2009-10 recalls ran into the devastation of the Japanese tsunami and then parts supplies were choked by the Thailand floods.
As this week’s quarterly earnings report and forecast for its new fiscal year that began in April showed, Toyota’s making a strong comeback, with global sales up 18%.
“Although being No. 1 is not the main goal for us, it’s nice to see because hopefully it shows we’re on the right track,” Jim Wiseman, Toyota’s North American VP of external affairs, told Bloomberg.
GM spokesman Jim Cain told Nathan Bomey of the Detroit Free Press in an e-mail, however, that one quarter does not mean a year make. “GM today is a profitable, growing company, and our plan is to grow more and earn more. We’ve got the ingredients to do both over time, especially with our aggressive new product launch calendar and the momentum Chevrolet, in particular, is building around the world.”