The Japanese automaker reported sales of 688,813 vehicles in the US from April through June on Thursday. That compares to GM at 688,236 vehicles during the second quarter. Toyota exceeded analysts’ expectations while GM slightly missed forecasts.
The shock was caused by a global chip shortage that has significantly hampered vehicle production. Japanese automakers, especially Toyota, weathered the crisis better than their American competitors.
“You’ve been defying gravity for the past few months,” said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive. “We see that they have very low inventory levels and yet their sales have held up pretty well. … We are really surprised at Toyota’s strength and have had a decent quarter compared to some of the competition.”
The only way Toyota won’t take over the cloak as the best-selling automaker is if Ford engine, which reported sales on Friday morning, significantly exceeded analysts’ sales expectations of 645,000 vehicles during the quarter. Ford previously said it was expected loses half of its production in the second quarter because of the chip problem.
The last time GM was not the top-selling automaker in the US for a quarter of a year was when Ford outperformed them during the Great Recession in the third quarter of 1998, Edmunds reports.
According to Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds Executive Director of Insights, Toyota is known for looking far into its supply chain and having more experience managing lower inventory levels. She assumes that there could be major fluctuations in the US market share this year due to the shortage of parts.
“I would definitely expect a small change in market share,” she said. “Toyota has done really well, the Asian brands have done pretty well overall.”
In May, Reuters reported that Toyota was stockpiling semiconductor chips, which are vital to modern vehicles, and that chip scarcity had no major short-term impact.
Toyota declined to comment specifically on sales successes, but issued the following statement: “We are grateful to our loyal customers for putting their safety and confidence in Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Our focus has always been and will be continue to be the best brand for safety and quality in our customers’ minds, and as part of our philosophy of continuous improvement, we are always finding better ways to do things and ultimately make better products that our customers love and trust. “