Toyota has finally overtaken GM in vehicle sales, ending its 90-year streak. Toyota sold 805,000 vehicles globally to surpass General Motors, which sold 793,000 vehicles during the same period. Toyota senior vice president Jack Hollis announced in a statement.
“It is an honor to announce that Toyota has become the number one automaker in the world,” Hollis said. “Our success comes from our passionate and committed employees who are dedicated to serving our customers.”
This is a significant milestone for Toyota, which first surpassed GM as the world’s largest automaker in 2008 but has since lost the top spot. The company attributes its resurgence to a renewed focus on SUVs and trucks and advancements in self-driving technology. The popularity of their makes such as the Camry, Corolla and Prius has also contributed to their success.
GM has been struggling in recent years due to declining sales in North America and China. Last year, the company announced that it would be cutting 14,000 jobs as part of a restructuring effort.
Toyota has not been immune to its own struggles, but it is currently better positioned for the future thanks to strong sales in China and a massive investment in self-driving vehicles.
In 2020, Toyota acquired driverless car company Cruise with plans on launching an autonomous taxi service by 2021. In September 2018, the company announced that it was investing $500 million in its North American manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama.
Toyota is expected to release an autonomous car by 2020 with the help of Softbank and Uber Technologies’ research unit, Bloomberg reports. The same year, GM acquired Cruise for a reported $14 billion after nearly three years of talks. This has resulted in their stock shares leveling off.
In 2021, Toyota announced plans to invest $22 billion in the next five years on research and development, focusing on artificial intelligence technologies such as robotics and self-driving cars. This is part of an effort to diversify into new areas that don’t rely heavily on gas or diesel engines.
Toyota also plans to begin selling a fleet of self-driving electric minivans in Japan next year. The company’s president Akio Toyoda has stated that the new vehicles will be available for ride-sharing purposes.
In retaliation, GM officials have said that they will be doubling down on their own efforts to develop autonomous cars and expand beyond the North American market. “We’re not focused on one automaker overtaking another,” GM President Dan Ammann told reporters in Detroit. “Our focus is on what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”
This race to become the top automaker is sure to be exciting and full of surprises. It will be interesting to see how the two companies continue to compete in a rapidly changing industry.