Toyota has had some rough challenges during the past few years: massive product recalls, the terrible earthquake and a strong yen that makes its products more expensive. Yet the Japanese auto giant is on the move again. The Japan Times reports that Toyota’s sales have edged GM’s:
Over the first half of the year, Toyota sold about 300,000 more cars and trucks than GM did. Initially, that kind of lead was seen as large enough to make it difficult for GM to catch Toyota in the final six months of 2012. GM said it sold 4.67 million vehicles during the first half.
Both companies have said in the past that they don’t care about the global sales leadership and are focusing on making profits. But the sales crown is a matter of corporate pride for both automakers.
But business is one thing, and politics is another. Toyota may lose its lead to GM during the final months of the year due to the deterioration of its business in China. The increasingly bitter territorial dispute over the Senkuku island chain, claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing, has hurt many Japanese companies. Toyota must try to sell its vehicles in the critical but turbulent Chinese market, where anti-Japanese riots and boycotts have made holding onto the worldwide crown much harder. GM, which has a huge presence in China that has been ignored by the American media, could conceivably pick up a good deal of market share.
Still, Toyota’s rebound is impressive for a company that seemed stuck in crisis mode not long ago.