Is General Motors winning the battle, but not the war? GM this week wrestled back its top spot as the world's biggest car maker from Toyota.
The Japanese maker was the global number one in the first quarter of 2007 but GM has hit back in the second quarter from April to June to reclaim its 76-year-old crown. GM has flogged 2.41m cars in the second quarter (against 2.27m in the first three months of the year), just pipping Toyota's 2.37m (2.35m). The reason for GM's bounce-back? It enjoyed strong sales outside of America, with 58 percent of its business overseas. Sales in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East in particular were up by more than a fifth on last year. However, the champagne remains distinctly on ice. The Detroit-based car manufacturer still lags some 5000 cars behind Toyota year-to-date, and few observers expect GM to close the gap in the long run. Toyota has forecast 9.34m vehicles by the end of the year, compared with 9.2m for GM. This will surprise few industry watchers, when you consider the high cost of fuel in the US and around the world; the Americans still specialise in big trucks, SUVs and saloons, whereas the Japanese have proved nimbler on their feet, offering a wider choice of small, functional cars and clever hybrids.