Oh, what a feeling . . . kind of
TOYOTA is now the world’s largest carmaker — or is it still second? Depending on what figures you look at, it either overtook General Motors for global sales leadership last year or finished about 50,000 behind.
Toyota is not claiming No.1, and its local sales chief Dave Buttner has not cracked any champagne to celebrate.
‘‘We believe we were second. It depends on how you compile the figures, but the official Toyota numbers have us behind General Motors,’’ Buttner says.
If you add the production and sales totals of the complete Toyota group, which includes Daihatsu and Hino, it is easy to get to a number that trumps GM.
That is what Automotive News, a respected independent publication in the US, has done. It also included the CKD (completely knocked down) sets exported by various brands.
But it has not amalgamated Nissan and Renault, which would put the French-Japanese alliance in fifth place.
The Automotive News totals have Toyota at No.1 with 9.3 million vehicles sold last year, ahead of GM at 8.9 million and Volkswagen third at six million.
Ford, which has been third for decades, slipped to fourth.
Using the US numbers, the biggest winner is the Hyundai-Kia group at fifth. It has made a rapid rise from 11th in 1999.
Hyundai-Kia got a boost when the two companies became one, but it still shows the changing pattern in global success.
Things have changed again over the past three months. A huge downturn in US sales has hit Chrysler, Ford and GM. Even Toyota has seen numbers going backwards, though not enough to stop it taking worldwide No.1— in everyone’s figures— by the end of this year.