Toyota Motor plans to sell 9.34 million vehicles next year that is 2007, a figure that analysts said would put it ahead of troubled General Motors as the worldâ€™s largest auto company. Toyota reported global group sales of 8.8 million cars and trucks, below GMâ€™s 2006 sales forecast of 9.2 million vehicles. But the figures released lately showed the two firms on starkly different trajectories, with Toyota expecting to add a half million vehicle sales next year, at a time when GM is shuttering plants and laying off workers.
Surpassing GM would be a crowning achievement for Toyota, a company that got its start in the 1930s by reverse engineering GM and Ford cars, and that spent decades catching up with Detroit. It would also end GMâ€™s 81-year reign over the global auto industry, and mark another step in the rise of Asian carmakers.
However, becoming the global leader would also have its pitfalls for Toyota. The Japanese automaker could become a victim of its own success and follow GMâ€™s decline if it grows complacent, or lets quality control slip amid its rapid expansion. Being at the top could also make Toyota a fatter target for critics, particularly in Congress, where the companyâ€™s rise could fan a protectionist backlash.
Being No.1 Toyota will have to be even more sensitive and cautious in the US market and ot is also a matter of concern for GM and for America. It becomes a political issue when America gets passed in a core industry.
Toyotaâ€™s emergence s No. 1 would also realign the global auto industry. The Japanese car company would become the new industry benchmark and one that would be tough to match. While GMâ€™s strength in recent years has been its finance arm, Toyotaâ€™s success is grounded in its formidable manufacturing prowess. As the worldâ€™s most profitable carmaker; it also has the cash to invest heavily in new technologies and products.
Reaching the top would not exhaust Toyotaâ€™s opportunities for growth. Toyota will continue to gain in the US market, where higher gas prices have increased the popularity of smaller, more
fuel-efficient vehicles. Toyota was expanding in developing markets, particularly China, and into alternative energy vehicles, like hybrid and fuel cell technologies.
Toyotaâ€™s rise would also prove a victory of sorts for its unique corporate culture, the so-called Toyota way, which is rooted in an obsession with craftsmanship and constant improvement, or kaizen.