Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda, is more than just a business executive. The 66-year-old president is a true enthusiast, having been the driving force behind some hot cars like the Yaris, Supra, and Corolla in GR flavor. The 86 is alive and well while the Super Sport hypercar is (hopefully) still coming. At the same time, Akio Toyoda is a race car driver and took part in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring several times.
When he’s not on the track or green-lighting sports cars, he looks at sales numbers as any president of an automaker does. During a roundtable interview with reporters last week, Akio Toyoda made a rather juicy confession. After finding out Toyota outsold General Motors last year in the United States, the head honcho “did a little happy dance” in his office. He went on to say that “thankfully, nobody saw it.”
Indeed, Toyota delivered precisely 2,332,262 units in 2021 when GM sold 2,218,228. Sure, 114,034 sales typically don’t represent a huge difference when looking at the sales charts of two major players. However, beating GM on its home turf is an impressive feat. It’s especially true when you take into consideration that the last time GM was not #1 happened 90 years ago, all the way back in 1931.
When the numbers were published at the beginning of 2022, GM spokesman Jim Cain told Reuters said: “I wouldn’t rush out if I were [Toyota], and get a ‘We’re No. 1’ tattoo.” How’s it going so far this year? Toyota outsold GM in the first quarter but the North American automaker bounced back in Q2. Both have been hit hard by parts shortages and had to adjust production as well as build incomplete vehicles that are waiting for the missing components.
Speaking with CNBC early this year, Toyota North America’s senior vice president of automotive operations, Jack Hollis, said outselling GM is not the company’s objective. He went on to mention it’s unlikely to be a recurring situation: “Yes, we did surpass General Motors in sales. But to be clear, that is not our goal, nor do we see it as sustainable.”