Toyota Is No. 1

It happened again. Toyota was the number-one car company in the world in 2022. It sold 10.5 million cars across several brands, which include Toyota and Lexus. In doing so, it bested Volkswagen, which sold 8.3 million. VW’s several brands include Audi and Porsche. (Click here for cars that have been completely redesigned for 2023.)

Part of Toyota’s success is the growth of sales in America. Sixty years ago, the U.S. market was dominated by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. Toyota today sells more cars in the United States than Ford does in many months.

Toyota’s rise is also related to low costs, which barely exist anymore. Toyota had a huge worker pay advantage over Detroit because of the UAW. Today, Toyota has plants in several places in the United States, and it actually imports very little from Japan.

Toyota was accused of stealing designs from American manufacturers. If it did copy any designs, it did so well in terms of better quality that it took decades for U.S. car companies to catch Toyota in most quality surveys.

Toyota is at a crossroads. Its management has gone slow into the electric car market, assuming the hybrids will do better. There is a danger to that strategy if consumer preference changes. However, if the company is right, global manufacturers will have spent tens of billions of dollars on a market in which electric vehicles are the only option.

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