GM loses global sales crown after 77 years

Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:56am EST
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Kevin Krolicki

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp reported an 11 percent drop in global sales in 2008, allowing rival Toyota Motor Corp to surpass it as the world's largest automaker for the first time.

GM, now struggling to restructure under a $13.4 billion U.S. government bailout, had held the title as the global auto industry leader for 77 years and used the line in marketing.

But for 2008, Detroit-based GM said sales tumbled to 8.35 million vehicles, pressured by tightening credit and a slowdown that began in the United States and spread to emerging markets where GM has been stronger.

GM shares fell 26 cents or 7.4 percent to $3.24 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday near midday.

Earlier this week, Toyota said its global sales for 2008 had slipped 4 percent to 8.97 million vehicles as it also battled a costly slowdown in key markets.

Both GM and Toyota downplayed the significance of the shift in market leadership.

"Share doesn't always pay the bills," Don Esmond, Toyota's senior vice president for U.S. operations, said at an industry conference when asked about Toyota capturing the No. 1 spot after years of gaining on GM.

GM and Toyota ended 2007 with a virtual tie.   Continued...

 
<p>Car salesman Ray Schaffer (L) shows a customer a 2009 Chevrolet Impala sedan at a dealership in Dearborn, Michigan December 29, 2008. General Motors Corp on Wednesday said its global vehicle sales for 2008 had dropped 11 percent, allowing rival Toyota Motor Corp to surpass it as the world's largest automaker for the first time. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook</p>