After 77 Years, GM Cedes Sales Crown to Toyota

Both automakers post drops, but Japanese firm sells more worldwide than US giant
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2009 12:35 PM CST
Employees drive past a "thank you" banner outside the GM Moraine Assembly plant in Dayton, Ohio, Dec. 23, 2008, after the final shift at the plant.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – General Motors’ 77-year reign as the world’s top-selling automaker ended in 2008, the Detroit Free Press reports, overtaken at last by Toyota. The troubled US giant announced today its sales dropped 11% for the year, to 8.35 million vehicles; Toyota, despite a 4% dip, sold 8.97 million vehicles. “Share doesn’t always pay the bills,” a Toyota exec told Reuters in downplaying the news.

“Honestly this is not a measure that I pay a lot of attention to,” said GM’s president. “They passed us in terms of market cap, profitability, cash flow long ago.” January looks like it’ll be another bad month for the US auto market, one analyst said, but he expects the stimulus to lift demand in the second half of the year.