For 77 years, General Motors (GM) has been the world’s largest auto manufacturer. That reign has ended with Toyota assuming the number one spot. Ironically, Toyota usurped GM with their sales falling 4% (9 million vehicles sold); GM’s drop, however, was a larger at 11% (8.4 million).
Amazingly, since 1999, Toyota’s sales have increased 70%, largely because of demand for fuel-efficient cars. This is all bittersweet for Toyota as they are forecasting their first operating loss in 71 years. (GM, however, is begging for a bailout.)
Interestingly, GM took the top spot from Ford in 1931 in midst of the great depression. Now, in the throes of another economic downturn, they are passing the crown unto another.
In hard economic times, there are winners and losers. Those businesses that manage and position themselves well are likely to come out ahead, whereas those who enter a downturn in an already weakened condition, do not fair so well.