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Toyota outdoes GM to lead US sales

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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Agence France-Presse Toyota still managed to grow annual sales in the United States by 10.4 percent to 2.3 million, while General Motors suffered a 12.9 percent drop to 2.2 million.

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Japanese carmaker Toyota led US automobile sales in 2021, according to figures recently released, overtaking General Motors for the first time as a shortage of semiconductors roils the car industry.

The shift atop the rankings came after a year in which assembly lines were plagued by scarcity of the crucial computer chips, resulting in steep fourth-quarter sales declines for both companies.

But Toyota still managed to grow annual sales in the United States by 10.4 percent to 2.3 million, while General Motors suffered a 12.9 percent drop to 2.2 million.

Toyota, which has been credited with better management of the chip issue compared with some rivals, saw small annual gains for two top-selling sedans, the Camry and the Corolla, and a modest dip in sales of its Rav4 compact SUV. Its full-sized Highlander SUV scored higher sales in 2021.

GM, which relies more heavily on trucks than Toyota, saw an annual 10.8 percent drop in its Silverado pickup trucks and a 6.4 percent fall in its GMC truck line.

GM has held the crown as the number-one company in US auto sales since 1931, when it supplanted Ford, according to trade publication Automotive News.

Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive, noted that GMs’ de-emphasis of sedans has cost it some market share, and characterized Toyota’s ascendance as a “significant event” given GM’s longtime leadership.

In a market starved of inventory, Toyota also may have benefited from a smaller dealer network compared with GM, Ford and Stellantis, which owns the Chrysler brands, he said.

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