For the first time in nine decades, General Motors was not the top-selling automaker in the U.S. last year.
Instead, Toyota — a Japanese automaker that didn't sell its first vehicle in the U.S. until 1958, when GM's 90-year sales streak was already 27 years old — grabbed the sales crown by a margin of nearly 130,000 in 2021, thanks mostly to its ability to manage the global microchip shortage and COVID-19 disruptions.
In year-end figures released Tuesday, Toyota Motor North America reported sales of 2,332,262 light vehicles in the U.S. last year, up 10 percent from 2020. GM reported U.S. sales of 2,218,228 in 2021, down 13 percent from 2020.
Toyota first bested GM in the second quarter, and repeated the feat three months later as the chip crisis bit hard into both automakers' output. However, Toyota's global production footprint — it was expected to finish as the world's largest automaker in 2021 for the second consecutive year, again besting German rival Volkswagen Group — and North American plants helped it to keep ahead of GM in the U.S.