Jan 4 (Reuters) – General Motors Corp (GM.N) It regained the lead in US auto sales from rival Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) In 2022 it was able to better meet strong demand for cars and trucks despite industry-wide supply disruptions.
Shares of General Motors rose 2.7% in afternoon trading Wednesday to $34.75, after the company reported a 2.5% rise in 2022 sales to 2,274,088 vehicles, up from Toyota’s 2,108,458 units, in a closely watched race.
Inventory shortages caused by high material costs and the ongoing chip crisis have impeded production at many automakers, driving up the prices of cars and trucks. Asian brands were the hardest hit.
“Toyota continues to be among the tightest when it comes to inventory,” said Charlie Chesebrough, chief economist at Cox Automotive.
The Japanese automaker lowered its production target for the full year in November. Data on Wednesday showed that sales of SUVs, a key segment, fell 8.6% in 2022.
However, Toyota executives said that some positive signs are emerging, and that the rate of inventory build-up has been slow but steady.
“We are optimistic that our inventory levels will continue to improve in the first quarter and the rest of the year,” said Andrew Gill, senior vice president of Automotive Operations at Toyota.
Other brands such as Hyundai Motor America, Kia Motors America, Mazda North American Operations and American Honda, also reported declining sales on Wednesday.
New US vehicle sales ended December at 1.26 million units, an annual sales rate of 13.31 million, according to Wards Intelligence data.
Analysts worry that price hikes by automakers to ease inflationary pressures and higher interest rates will negatively affect new car sales in 2023.
Toyota CEO David Crist said affordability is a “very real problem”. However, the company expects demand to be strong this year.
Auto marketer TrueCar said automakers will need to start incentivizing buyers, a trend that paused during the pandemic.
Additional reporting by Aishwarya Nair, Nathan Gomez and Abhijith Janappavaram in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar and Devika Siamnath
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