Toyota Feels the Aftershock: Sales Slump Post-Earthquake, Automaker Falls to Third Place


File this one under “expected, but still disappointing.” Worldwide sales of Toyota cars worldwide have dipped so far after the Great East Japan Earthquake that the company now ranks third amongst global automakers for the first half of 2011. For now, it appears the current king is none other than General Motors.

Toyota (along with subsidiaries Lexus, Daihatsu, and Hino) scored a bronze medal for car sales between January and June 2011 by selling 3.71 million units. Commendable, but it wasn’t enough to maintain its reign as the world’s most popular automaker. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, Toyota shuttered all 12 of its Japanese factories, slowly re-opening them as recovery efforts mounted.

Toyota production figures are rising as parts supplies return to normal, so it’s to be expected that sales are steadily rising: U.S. Toyota, Lexus, and Scion sales increased 2.4 percent in June and 17.9 percent in July. But it wasn’t enough: GM sales increased 8.9 percent in the first half of the year to 4.536 million sales, trailed by Volkswagen’s 4.13 million units. The silver lining: Toyota’s sales are still roughly double of Hyundai Motor Company, whose newly upgraded models are proving to be a thorn in the Japanese marque’s side in the North American market.

Toyota predicted in April that its recovery period, or the point at which production will return to pre-quake levels, would be between November and December of this year, but has since changed its outlook and pushed the date forward to roughly September. After that point the marque expects sales to level, allowing time for assembled units to be shipped to market.

Sources: Bloomberg, Toyota

We've been driving Toyota cars and trucks since the mid 70's when our 75 Corolla performed as no other GM model ever had. The whole neighborhood virtually has switched since then and none of us have experienced any of the "defects" you claim Consumer Reports helped Toyota get away with. Today, Toyota is once again ahead of GM. One thing about GM, be careful what you buy with a GM tag on it-it may be from Korea, made by Koreans, out of Korean parts. I'm talking about the Aveo, complete with it's GM brochure describing it as "AN AMERICAN REVOLUTION". At least a Toyota is a Toyota. Hey look, there goes an Avalanche. How come there's not a "Made In Mexico" sticker on it?
How is it that when Toyota falls third place, it all because of the tsunami and not because they've been exposed of their defects which are in record numbers? If this had been GM, I'm sure the media would be saying that it was because of lousy quality. Now Toyota falls and it's all because of the tsunami. Toyota got away with all those defects for years with the help of Consumer Reports. Let's be fair and give GM credit. GM is again number one because of all the great cars they've coming out with. If you don't know, check it out.

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