US: GM moves back ahead of Toyota on Q3 global sales

By just-auto.com editorial team | 22 October 2007

GM edged ahead of Toyota on global sales in the cumulative first nine months of this year as it benefited from strong China sales in the third quarter while Toyota slipped back in the US market.

Toyota global sales for the first nine months of the year hit 7.05 million vehicles, up 7% from a year ago. GM released figures last week that showed global sales of 7.06 million, which was up just over 2% from a year ago.

The gap in third quarter sales was slightly larger, as GM sold 2.387 million vehicles, up 4%, while Toyota sold 2.237, which also represented a 4% gain.

In the first quarter Toyota moved ahead of GM in global sales for the first time. It was slightly behind GM in the second quarter, but it still had the lead in year-to-date global sales for the first six months of the year.

Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco had no comment on the comparison to GM sales. GM spokesman John McDonald told CNN: "We're not focused on being No. 1 and who's No. 2. We like being No. 1. We've been No. 1 for 76 years on an annual basis. But while it's a real interesting story to the media, I don't know a single customer who uses that criteria when making the decision on where to buy a vehicle."

Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis for J.D. Power, said that the fact that GM moved back ahead in the race for No. 1 does not mean its competitive challenge from Toyota is behind it.

"This may very well go back and forth from quarter to quarter," he said. "It's obviously a very competitive situation. To draw any major conclusion after a quarter or even three quarters is premature."

GM was helped by particularly strong sales gains in China, which is the fastest growing market for new car sales in the world. Its sales in the Asia Pacific region were up nearly 16% in the third quarter, helped by a 21% rise in sales of its Chinese joint venture.