Toyota beats GM in worldwide sales in first half

Toyota beats GM in worldwide sales in first half http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080723/gm_toyota_sales.html?.v=4
Wednesday July 23, 9:01 am ET Toyota beats General Motors in worldwide sales in first half of 2008 as
US sales slump
DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp (NYSE:GM - News) trailed Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp (Tokyo:7203.T - News) in global vehicle sales decisively through the second quarter and first half of the year, hurt by a large decline in North America.
The Detroit-based automaker said on Wednesday that vehicle sales fell 3 percent to 4.54 million vehicles in the first half as higher sales in Europe, Asia and Latin America failed to offset a 15 percent decline in North America.
Toyota sales, meanwhile, rose 2.2 percent to 4.8 million in the first six months of 2008. The tally includes sales at mini-vehicle unit Daihatsu Motor Co (Tokyo:7262.T - News) and truck unit Hino Motors Ltd (Tokyo:7205.T - News).
Higher U.S. gas prices have "put an enormous amount of pressure" on GM's truck sales, said Erich Merkle, an automotive consultant with accounting and consulting firm Crowe Chizek and Co LLC. "That is equating to lower sales for GM and causing them to now fall behind Toyota."
Both the automakers have cut U.S. truck production in response to weak U.S. auto sales and a consumer shift from low-mileage vehicles because of high fuel prices.
The slump in U.S. demand for large SUVs and pickup trucks has hit GM particularly hard as the high-margin vehicles historically account for a majority of the automaker's sales.
Toyota, on the other hand, has been able to weather the downturn better because of its strong car line-up, but plans to cut its global sales target for 2008.
GM and Toyota were roughly even in 2007 for the top spot among the world's automakers, with GM slightly ahead if sales from a China business were included.
Its Official: Toyota is #1 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/its-official-toyota-is-1 /
Reuters reports that Toyota sold 4.8m vehicles in the first half of 2008, while GM managed to move 4.54m. It's official: GM is no longer the world's largest automobile manufacturer. GM's spinmeisters promptly bragged that it reached record numbers in three of its four regions in the second quarter of 2008. Unfortunately, GM's 116k-unit growth outside of the U.S. was swamped by a 236k-unit decline in the home market. Also, GM continues to take full unit credit for sales in China even though the Chinese business is majority-owned by Chinese partner SAIC. (For example, GM owns only 34 percent of the unit which builds the high-volume Chevrolet Spark.) GM's decision back in 2000 to ramp-up trucks and SUVs whilst eviscerating their US car efforts in order to boost profit margins has come home to roost.
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