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GM: To Fight And To Hold Its Reign

General Motors Corporation will not be giving up its reign that easy. Toyota has to fight first a pretty tight battle. GM is determined to fight and to hold the title no matter what.

GM's 2006 sales totaled 9.1 million and is just a few notches away from that of Toyota's. However, GM will not cede its title without waging a tough battle with its closest rival in the auto industry. GM has been the world's No. 1 auto company since 1931. Last Thursday, it announced a sale of 9.1 million vehicles in 2006. Said figure is down from about 9.2 million the previous year.

Toyota, on the one hand, has reported 8.8 million sales. Toyota performance parts are etching a remarkable milestone in the auto realm despite the fact that they do not belong to the domestic auto circles. Toyota expects to sell 9.35 million vehicles this year. On the part of GM, this statement is hard to accept because it would mean giving the long-cherished title in favor of a rival. "We like being No. 1 and our people take pride in it, so it's not something we would sit back and let somebody just pass us by," said Rick Wagoner, chairman and chief executive officer of General Motors. "We're going to fight to keep the position; and if one day we lose it, we'll fight to get it back."

GM has not announced its global forecast yet but according to Wagoner, GM's foreign sales continued to grow. He added, "Outside the United States, GM sales increased 6.7 percent last year. Over the past five years, GM's sales outside the United States have increased by 1.3 million vehicles." Last year was the second in a row that the automaker sold more vehicles outside America.

Auto analyst Erich Merkle of IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids said the goal of the automaker which is to maintain the No. 1 post is an admirable aim. "The thing that concerns me is that Toyota just has so much momentum right now," Merkle said. "I'm very pleased with a lot of the progress GM is making on its product front, but GM has still got to get its mojo back here in the North American auto industry. Where I think GM has a shot at running with Toyota is their wild card, which is China."

GM is still on the lead in China with an overwhelming 32 percent increase in sales. Said sales record has significantly boosted its 2006 overall sales. "Buick is a huge brand in China," Merkle said. "The Chinese tend to really embrace American culture and American things. They embrace American cars." Merkle noted, "Japan's Toyota could have some difficulty in China because of a contentious history between the countries."

"We're going to have to fight for every sale and do it in a way that's consistent with building the value of the enterprise from a shareholder perspective," Wagoner concluded. "If, as a result of that, we get passed, it won't be a happy day for me. But I've lost basketball games in my life and you get ready and you learn and you go back and play the next day -- and that's what we'll do."

About the Author: Jennifer Dylan is a 35-year-old gal who hails from San Francisco. She has a habit of updating herself on new car trends and models. She spends most of her time reading up on cars and hopes to test drive them. She works for one of the topnotch car parts dealer in the U.S.

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