Toyota Motor outperformed General Motors in the US for the first quarter and is expected to be America’s best-selling automaker.
The Japanese automaker reported sales of 688,813 vehicles in the US from April through June on Thursday. That compares to GM at 688,236 vehicles during the second quarter. Toyota exceeded analysts’ expectations, while GM slightly missed forecasts.
The shock was caused by a global chip shortage that has significantly hampered vehicle production. Japanese automakers, especially Toyota, weathered the crisis better than their American competitors.
“You’ve been defying gravity for the past few months,” said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive. “We see that they have very low inventory levels and yet their sales have held up pretty well. … We’re really surprised at Toyota’s strength and a decent quarter compared to some of the competition.”
The only way Toyota won’t take on the cloak as the best-selling automaker is if Ford Motor, which reported sales on Friday morning, significantly exceeded analyst’s sales expectations of 645,000 vehicles during the quarter. Ford previously said it expects to lose half of its production in the second quarter due to the chip problem.
The last time GM wasn’t the top-selling automaker for a quarter in the US was when Ford outperformed them during the Great Recession in the third quarter of 1998, Edmunds reports.
According to Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds Executive Director of Insights, Toyota is known for looking deep into its supply chain and having more experience managing lower inventory levels. She assumes that there could be major fluctuations in the US market share this year due to the shortage of parts.
“I would definitely expect a small change in market share,” she said. “Toyota has done really well, the Asian brands have done pretty well overall.”
In May, Reuters reported that Toyota was stockpiling semiconductor chips, which are vital to modern vehicles, and that the chip shortage had no major short-term impact.
Toyota declined to comment specifically on sales successes, but released the following statement: “We are grateful to our loyal customers for showing their safety and trust in Toyota and Lexus vehicles, the best brand in terms of safety and quality in the Minds of our customers. And as part of our continuous improvement philosophy, we keep finding better ways to do things and ultimately make better products that our customers love and trust. “