General Motors has been the top-selling automaker in the U.S. for the past 90 years, a stretch that began in the Great Depression, spans 15 presidential administrations and has withstood countless crises, including the company's humbling bankruptcy.
The global microchip shortage of 2021 could be the hurdle that finally ends GM's nine decades of dominance on its home turf, as Toyota Motor North America sold more new vehicles for a second consecutive quarter.
For Toyota, September brought a 22 percent decline, with its top seller, the RAV4, plunging by more than half.
But Toyota managed a modest year-over-year increase in the third quarter overall, while GM's sales fell to its lowest three-month total since the grimmest days of the 2009 recession. GM entered the fourth quarter trailing Toyota by about 90,000 light vehicles and on pace for one of its lowest-volume years since the 1950s.
GM executives said they think the third quarter was the worst of the crisis for the company, and nearly all of its North American plants are scheduled to be back online this week after numerous lengthy shutdowns.
Still, analysts expect the industry to have more difficulty keeping up with consumer demand during the fourth quarter, particularly in October, as the chip shortage persists.