GM had been No.1 since 1931.
The dust has settled for the year 2021 and the sales results are coming in. Toyota has announced it sold 2.332 million vehicles in the US last year, making it the best-selling automaker in America. Why is this a big deal? Because, for the first time since 1931, the top spot was held by General Motors. The Detroit-based carmaker, which also happens to be America's largest, sold a total of 2.218 million vehicles in 2021, a 13 percent decrease compared to the year prior.
In 2020, GM led the pack with a grand total of 2.55 million vehicles sold while Toyota came in second at 2.11 million. What's changed over the past 12 months that helped propel Toyota into the top spot? The ongoing semiconductor chip crisis has caused all sorts of headaches for automakers, especially GM.
Toyota, on the other hand, went into the crisis in a far stronger position thanks to its hefty chip stockpile. Eventually, it too began to experience a chip shortage but it bought itself some time. That paid off tremendously well. Despite Toyota's No. 1 sales position, it's not bragging. Instead, it's very humble.
"Despite a second consecutive year of challenges, TMNA focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience, and we remain optimistic as our electrification strategy further evolves," said Jack Hollis, senior vice president of Toyota North America. "Thanks to our phenomenal dealers and world-class purchasing and manufacturing teams, our inventory continues to improve and we're preparing to introduce 21 all-new, refreshed or special edition vehicles in 2022."
Don't assume GM won't recover in 2022 and beyond. As the chip crisis starts to get under control, GM will certainly begin increasing production once again and, equally important, begin rolling out all-new, fully electrified vehicles, including the GMC Hummer EV SUV, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and Cadillac Lyriq.
Toyota has been slower to the EV market than its main rivals, but that's because global CEO Akio Toyoda remains unconvinced the technology is the ideal solution for vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. Toyota recently revealed its first EV, the bZ4X, and several more are in the works, as well as some from luxury brand Lexus. GM will recover but, right now, it's Toyota's time in the spotlight.