Toyota Tops Sales in the US, Ford Comes Close
"That's huge," says Lincoln Merrihew, Compete's automotive director. "Toyota is still strong, but Ford is breaking away, gradually gaining more share of market and getting more shoppers."
Ford was the best-selling automobile brand in the US for 19 out of 20 years until year 2007, when Chevrolet topped the charts and Ford only got third place. In 2008, Toyota became first and Chevrolet had to settle for the second place.
Another important aspect of this race is that Ford seems to have caught up with Toyota’s build quality. "Ford has pretty much caught Toyota in quality, but it hasn't translated into customer perception yet," says Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive research for J.D. Power. "The big challenge for Toyota is that as quality gets closer, what is their differentiator? Toyota can't rely on that quality gap anymore to see them through."
Even though Toyota is spending huge amounts with its winter sales, called Toyotathon, officials say that the first place is not necessarily their aim. "Being No. 1 is so overblown," said Toyota General Manager Bob Carter. "Do I want to sell a lot of cars? Absolutely. I have a lot of respect for Ford, but we're focused on what we do best, and that's the retail side of the market.
"We have terrific leases," he added. "That's a huge opportunity for us because just about everyone but Honda and Toyota has abandoned leasing."