In another sign that the Detroit auto industry is facing stiff competition around the world, Toyota has now surpassed GM as the world's biggest manufacturer of vehicles. Figures indicate GM still edged out the Asian giant in terms of vehicle sales, however.
Toyota Motor Corp. has announced that it had made a record 9,497,754 vehicles worldwide in 2007, up 5.3 percent from the previous year, reports Mainichi Daily News. That's about 213,000 more automobiles than the 9.284 million that GM made last year.
In terms of the all-important sales, General Motors sold 9,369,524 vehicles around the world in 2007, up 3 percent from the previous year. That's about 3,000 vehicles more than Toyota. Still, Toyota's sales grew 6 percent in the same period from the past year, twice as fast as GM's. The company's solid growth means GM better adapt quickly, if they want to hold on to their place at the top of the heap.
It's clear that the environment has played a big role in Toyota's success. Not only is the company known for its flagship hybrid Prius, but it has won a reputation for reliability, long life, and solid gas mileage across many models, especially its smaller and mid-size offerings. Meanwhile, GM has often been saddled with a reputation for big SUVs and gas guzzlers, although the company does have a robust lineup.
Hopefully, American automakers will treat the competition as healthy incentive to keep innovating, and offering cars people want to drive -- especially green cars. In a world with tightening belts, rising gas prices and consumer anxiety, high fuel economy is very much on buyers' minds. Detroit needs to stop pinning all their hope on fat SUV profits, and really compete with high efficiency, hybrid and clean air models.
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