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Toyota Seals Gap With GM

The Toyota Motor Corp. built more than 9 million vehicles last year for the first time. The production narrowed the gap with General Motors Corp. which has 160,000 more. This has tickled speculations among auto enthusiasts. Some are anticipating for a new auto giant reign while others detest its happening.

Toyota reported that its production output increased by 9.5 per cent in 2006 to 9.02 million vehicles despite a contraction in the Japanese market. The automaker’s production includes Toyota’s affiliates - Daihatsu and Hino. On the other hand, GM also reported 9.18 million vehicle productions for the same year. This figure was a slight increase from 9.05 million in 2005. As such, many analysts in the industry are expecting that GM will fall a notch lower to make way for Toyota as the new automotive leader around the globe.

Toyota expects to sell 9.34 million vehicles for 2007. The automaker also expects to sell 2.68 million vehicles in the United States alone to raise its sales by 6 per cent. "Things are going very well with Toyota, and it's likely to achieve its target for this year," said Shotaro Noguchi, an auto analyst for the Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Co. in Tokyo.

Honda, another fast-rising Japanese automaker, has reported an increase of 6.6 per cent in global output to 3.63 million vehicles. Nissan, on the other hand, overtook Honda in 2004 when the production of the latter declined by 7.7 per cent to 3.24 million vehicles.

Honda, though, is coping from its previous losses because of the brisk sales of its Civic compact in the United States and Chinas. The strong demand in overseas markets is the primary reason why Japanese automakers are creating big waves in the auto industry realm. As a fact, these automakers are struggling in their home market. It can be recalled that in 2006, Japan tripped off to third place behind China.

Cars and trucks sales in China increased by more than a third last year to 7.2 million vehicles while in Japan, vehicle sales shrank to 5.7 million. This information was divulged by J.P. Morgan investment firm. In Japan, the real growth segment is mini-vehicles that weigh half as much as traditional cars. However, when mini-vehicles are to be excluded, Japan’s market totaled 3.7 million units in 2006 after an 18th consecutive monthly decline in December. "We believe earnings will remain structurally dependent on overseas sales growth in 2007," J.P. Morgan concluded.

GM is so far the largest car manufacturer around the globe. The corporation is founded in 1908. Today, it has about 327,000 workers globally. The automaker’s cars and trucks are sold in 33 countries. In 2005, about 9.17 million GM vehicles were sold under its established brands that include Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall. These brands are known for their efficiency, durability, comfort and performance. The functionality of its vehicles is boosted by high-quality auto parts like EBC brake pads, improved suspension, rotors and powerful engines.

Toyota, on the other hand, is so far world’s second largest automaker. The automaker has also established a good reputation in the manufacture of hybrids. In addition, it is sending more positive vibes in the auto industry than other automakers these days. To gauge its prowess, the corporation is also the world's eighth largest company by revenue. With the growing vehicle demands around the globe and with the rising excellence in the field, Toyota is expected to rule auto industry this year or at least no later than 2008. This expectation, which is anchored on the automaker’s 9.4 million vehicle production target for this year, is also supported by individual analysts’ predictions.

About the Author: Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.

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