Toyota overtakes General Motors first time in nearly a century to become the leader in US auto sales

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Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp outsold General Motors corp in the United States in 2021, breaking the dominance of General Motors in U.S auto sales in over 90 years.

This comes after assembly lines were plagued by shortage of the crucial computer chips in 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic, forcing automakers to focus on their most profitable models.

Since 1931 when it surpassed Ford in auto sales, the American multinational automotive manufacturing company, General Motors, had been the largest seller of vehicles in the United States, according to data from industry publication Automotive News.

But 2021 came with a shock. Toyota sold 2.332 million vehicles in the U.S, compared with 2.218 million for General Motors, the automakers announced on Tuesday.

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General Motors’ total sales in 2020 was 2.55 million – a 13% reduction compared to its 2021 sales. Toyota’s total sales in 2020 was 2.11 million – a 10% increase in 2021. Ford Motor generated 2.04 million in sales in 2020.

The last time General Motors had low sales was in 2010 when it had 2.202 million in total sales. The  Detroit-based company said on Tuesday it expects U.S. economic growth will boost U.S. total light-duty vehicle industry sales in 2022.

Meanwhile, Toyota is not boasting about over-taking GM in auto sales. Senior Vice President Jack Hollis said the automaker is “grateful” for its loyal customers, but “being No. 1 is never a focus or priority.”

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A spokesperson for General Motors, Jim Cain said the company had a very strong sales year in the U.S in full-size SUVs and pickup trucks as it has focused on profitability, and as the supply of semiconductors improves, so will sales.

“I wouldn’t rush out if I were (Toyota), and get a ‘We’re No. 1’ tattoo,” he said.

General Motors under Chief Executive Mary Barra also has emphasized profitability over volume, abandoning such money-losing markets as Europe and Russia.