TOKYO -- General Motors still will be building more cars and trucks than Toyota Motor Corp. in 2010, according to a forecast by Global Insight Inc.
The prediction disputes the widely held view that a rapidly surging Toyota will pass GM to become the world's largest automaker in the next two or three years.
By 2010, GM's output will be 9.31 million vehicles to Toyota's 9.16 million, says Global Insight, a respected economic forecasting company in London.
Toyota's sales will grow faster than GM's between now and 2010. But GM's lead and its projected sales growth, mainly in Asia, will keep it ahead, according to the forecast.
In 2004, GM sold 8,089,551 vehicles to Toyota's 6,707,600. If GM's alliance partners' sales are added to its total, GM's sales tally rises to 12,020,955.
Counting production rather than sales, Global Insight estimates GM's 2004 output at 8.67 million. It says Toyota's production was 7.55 million last year, or 1.12 million behind GM's.
By 2010, it predicts the difference will have narrowed to 150,000 units. That is equivalent to about one year's production at an assembly plant on a single shift.
During those six years, Toyota will have raised its output by about 1.6 million vehicles, according to the forecast. "I thought this was pretty impressive from Toyota's viewpoint," says Global Insight analyst Ashvin Chotai.
On the other hand, he says, "It will be difficult for Toyota to grow faster than this, considering management constraints and impact on margins."
Toyota already is the market leader in Japan and Southeast Asia, so it has "limited scope for market share increases" there, he says. Chotai says Toyota has "the best growth prospects in China," where it lags GM, "and our forecasts for Toyota in India are also fairly bullish."
At GM, sales and output gains in Asia and Latin America will be offset by declines in North America and western Europe, Global Insight predicts.
"Of course, if GM does not find solutions to its current problems, its demise will be faster," Chotai says. "This is something we are watching carefully. We will make revisions as necessary."
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