After a disastrous 2011, which saw it drop to third place behind General Motors and the VW Group due to production shortage caused by the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Toyota has bounced back and is currently the world’s number one car manufacturer.
On Friday, October 26, the company announced that in the first nine months of the year, it has sold 7.4 million vehicles globally. That’s a 28 percent increase compared to last year and almost half a million units, 450,000 to be precise, than GM whose sales increased by 2.5 percent to 6.95 million.
So, has Japan’s number one automotive manufacturer already regained the throne it lost last year after an uninterrupted reign since 2008?
While that’s very likely, the jury is still out. The reason is that, like all Japanese companies, its sales have been falling in China due to the much-publicized territorial dispute between the two Asian countries.
In August, it delivered 75,280 vehicles in China, which equals a 15 percent drop compared to the same month last year. September was even worse: sales were just 44,100 units, a sharp drop from 2011’s 86,000.
As a result of the Chinese boycott of Japanese products, Toyota no longer expects to reach its initial target of one million sales in the world’s biggest new car market and has, so far, not given a new estimate.
Still, while GM and other non-Japanese carmakers are making hay of the situation in China, analysts like Nomura Securities’ Masataka Kunugimoto, expects Toyota to make a recovery by the end of 2012.
Kunugimoto said that he doesn’t “expect this kind of drop to continue”, adding that “the Chinese market is still growing” and forecast that Toyota’s 2012 sales will hit the 900,000 mark.
GM spokesman Jim Cain stated that the company is more interested in profitable growth than winning the sales race. That may well be the case, or it may just be "PR talk" given that even in its home market, GM's sales growth rate of 3.4 percent in the first nine months has been lagging compared to the industry’s average 15 percent increase.
By Andrew TsaousisStory References: Detnews