Ford, Toyota Could Pass GM This Year

May 21, 2009

Staring down the barrel of a likely bankruptcy, General Motors is doing everything it can to remain afloat--slashing production, selling up brands and cutting thousands of jobs, but still the hits just keep coming. Now, one report says GM will soon lose its title as the world's largest automaker, and could fall behind Ford in the number of cars it builds, too.

A new study has found that Toyota will surpass GM in U.S. market share sometime next year, while Detroit rival Ford is expected to pass it in North American production as early as this year.

The findings, from influential auto industry research firm IHS Global Insight, paint a negative image for GM, which will have to struggle even harder not just to recover what it's lost but to maintain what it has. As things sit, the study puts GM's U.S. market share at 19.2%, down 2.7%, while Toyota's is down just 0.3% to 16.1%. That means Toyota saw a relative rise in share compared to GM even as it too lost sales. If this trend continues, Toyota will be selling more cars in North America than GM as early as next year.

Ford, on the other hand, is still a ways back from GM in sales but is already set to exceed it in North American output by the end of the year. An estimated 1.9 million Ford vehicles will roll out of factories in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico this year. GM will only turn out about 1.7 million vehicles by the IHS's count.

As for Chrysler, with almost all of its plants shuttered through the bankruptcy period and faith in the company at an all-time low, the struggling automaker is soon to be passed in both North American production and sales by Honda as well as Toyota.

Last year the battle for global sales leader between GM and Toyota was intense, and if you thought the situation couldn’t get any worse German auto giant Volkswagen is also starting to pose a threat on the world stage. The fight for the drastically downsized U.S. market may soon take a back seat to the global struggle as automakers form a new, post-crunch hierarchy.

[IHS, via Automotive News]

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