GM takes back the US car sales crown from Toyota

Jan 4 (Reuters) – General Motors Co ( GM.N ) reclaimed the top spot in U.S. auto sales from rival Toyota Motor Corp ( 7203.T ) in 2022 as it was better able to meet strong demand for cars and trucks to despite industry-wide supply disruptions.

GM shares rose 2.7% in afternoon trading Wednesday to $34.75, after the company posted a 2.5% increase in 2022 sales to 2,274,088 vehicles, higher than Toyota̵[ads1]7;s 2,108,458 units, in a closely watched run.

Inventory shortages as a result of rising material costs and a persistent chip crunch had hampered production at many automakers, keeping car and truck prices high. Asian brands were the hardest hit.

“Toyota remains among the tightest when it comes to inventory,” said Cox Automotive senior economist Charlie Chesbrough.

The Japanese automaker cut its production target for the full year in November. Sales of the SUVs, a key segment, fell 8.6% in 2022, data showed on Wednesday.

However, Toyota executives said there were some positive signs emerging and the rate of inventory build-up was slow but steady.

“We are optimistic that our inventory levels will continue to improve in the first quarter and the rest of the year,” said Andrew Gillel, senior vice president of automotive operations at Toyota.

Reuters graphics

Other brands such as Hyundai Motor America, Kia Motors America, Mazda North American Operations and American Honda all showed declines in sales on Wednesday.

New vehicle sales in the U.S. in December ended at 1.26 million units, with an annual sales rate of 13.31 million, according to data from Wards Intelligence.

Analysts worry that price hikes by automakers to curb inflationary pressures and rising interest rates will take a toll on new vehicle sales in 2023.

Affordability is a “very real issue,” Toyota CEO David Christ said. Nevertheless, the company expects demand to be robust this year.

Automakers need to start incentivizing buyers, a trend that was halted during the pandemic, auto marketer TrueCar said.

Reporting by Aishwarya Nair, Nathan Gomes and Abhijith Ganapavaram in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar and Devika Syamnath

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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