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Toyota hangs on to top spot in 2010, but GM closes gap


Toyota hangs on to top spot in 2010, but GM closes gap

Jorge Hernandez January 24, 2011

Despite suffering massive recalls and a tarnished image, Toyota managed to retain its place atop global sales during 2010. The company said Monday that it sold 8.418 million vehicles across the globe last year, a figure which barley edged out General Motors, which sold 8.390 million cars, The Wall Street Journal reports.

This is third straight year that the Japanese manufacturers have bested GM in terms of total cars sold since it knocked the Detroit-based company from the top spot in 2008. Despite their second place finish, GM was bolstered by a resurgence in China, and still experienced a significant growth in global sales, with a 12 percent increase over 2009's figures, the company said.

Although Toyota managed to stay on top, it was a tumultuous year for the automaker. A company known for safety and quality, Toyota had to recall more than 8.5 million vehicles between 2009 and 2010 due to issues surrounding sticking accelerators that many claim contributed to at least 37 deaths. The recall hurt sales in the United States especially, where a recovering market saw an overall increase in the purchase of cars, yet Toyota lost marketshare in the U.S.

While the company is currently experiencing the highest worldwide sales, next year may not be as sunny for Toyota, experts say. Along with GM, German manufacturers Volkswagen also enjoyed a surge in sales, with a 14 percent jump in 2010.

"Looking at the current sales momentum, it's hard to say whether Toyota will be able to keep its top position for a fourth straight year." market analyst Mamoru Kato told the news source.

Other experts agree that 2011 may not be much better for Toyota, according to the news provider. The company still imports around one-third of its products from Japan, making its products exposed to significant currency swings.