GM outsold Toyota for the first time in the past six quarters, as Japan sales continued to drop after incentives for EVs offered by the government expired in 2012.
During the second quarter Toyota sold 2.48 million vehicles, close to the 2.49 million vehicles sold by GM. Toyota’s sales drop in Japan is seen as a weak spot for the automaker which targets its biggest profit in 6 years and which saw its stock increase 54% this year so far. Auto sales in Japan have begun to slowly decrease since the 1989 asset bubble burst, helped only by the temporary government subsidies.
“The decline in Japan will continue,” said Jun Nokuo, an analyst with researcher R.L. Polk & Co. in Tokyo. “It is an aging society and the population is shrinking. At the same time, the popularity of cars is declining because public transportation is easy to use.”
During the first six months of the year Toyota sold 4.91 million vehicles, down 1.2%, while GM sold 4.85 million vehicles and VW 4.7 million units. Since December 2012 Toyota said it expects to reach sales of 10 million units this year, a milestone no other automaker has ever reached.
“The fight between GM, Toyota and VW will be long and hard fought,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “It will be the manufacturer that is best able to deliver high quality, affordable, fuel-efficient transportation to the masses that will ultimately own the global sales race.”