The sales figures have been computed and it looks as though Toyota has captured the number 2 spot from Ford in the US Market. However, if you were to press either company for a response it seems a mere shrug might be the best you will see.
Ford has held the #2 spot on the US sales ranking for 75 solid years; tucked neatly behind GM who has been the mainstay at #1. While to anyone who lives by rankings would be aghast at the position change of the two automotive giants those who have been following the current automotive news may have seen this as a foregone conclusion for 2007.
Ford is in the midst of a restructuring phase that still has a couple years to go if they follow through as planned. Part of that reduction was a decrease in fleet sales to rental companies which was once a large part of their Tuarus sales. Another part of the restructuring involved Ford stepping out of the mini-van segment and putting their energies into the burgeoning crossover line. Ford’s crossover sales saw a 62% increase in 2007 thanks to the Ford Edge and the Lincoln MKX.
Ford may not have wanted to relinquish their position as number 2, but with a changing market and a company in transition surely they had conceded early on that this day would come.
Toyota sure saw this day coming, but Japanese manners would make them too modest to publicly applaud it. Leading the charge for Toyota is the success of the new Tacoma half-ton model and the US Markets transition from large SUV’s and truck to more fuel efficient cars. And thanks in a large part to the Prius and Camry Toyota has earned the reputation as having some of the most fuel efficient cars on the market.
The Prius has become the icon of the Green movement by accounting for 11% of all of Toyota’s sales and has left other Hybrid wannabes a bit green with envy. Sales of the Prius on a whole were up 68% for Toyota in 2007.
However, no one knows more than Toyota how quickly public opinion can change as they tentatively embrace their charge up to the #2 spot and recognize that the larger they become the more under the microscope they will become.
While Ford nestles in at their #3 spot it is GM that should be looking over their shoulders. Toyota’s world wide sales are still growing and their US sales do not look to be slowing. It may not be long before the might GM is toppled from its cozy #1 spot by the modest yet surging Asian giant that is Toyota.
So are Americans ready for Toyota to be their Number 1? Do they really care about auto rankings?