An electric first week of 2022 is setting the tone for automotive manufacturing in the rest of the year.
On January 4, Toyota Motors announced it had sold more cars than General Motor in the United States in 2021, marking the first year in almost 90 years since GM was a runner-up. Ford Motors announced it would almost double planned production for its electric F-150 pickup, and a day later, GM CEO Mary Barra revealed GM’s own electric truck—a battery-powered version of the popular Silverado pickup, with a basic version priced to compete with the F-150.
Toyota Takes Top Spot
According to Automotive News, General Motors has been the top manufacturer for U.S. auto sales since 1931, when it took the crown from its Dearborn-based competitor Ford Motors. But last year’s sales numbers reveal that Toyota Motors snatched the top spot for 2021, spoiling GM’s chances at a 90-year streak. Sales of the Japanese company’s vehicles rose by 10.4% last year to 2.3 million while domestic GM sales fell 12.9% to 2.2 million units.
Despite the marvel of Toyota spoiling General Motors’ almost-90-year streak at the top, it’s unlikely the company will hold the record. Both companies were hit hard by the long-term semiconductor shortage, and although Toyota was credited as initially handling the supply constraints better, neither company expects a repeat in 2022.
In comments to Reuters, Toyota Senior VP Jack Hollis said the company has no plans to advertise the achievement or try to sustain its lead over GM. Being first in sales, Hollis said, “is never a focus or a priority.”
Ford Adds F-150 Production to Meet Demand—Again
On the same day as Toyota’s upset, Ford Motors—which itself saw U.S. sales fall 7% last year—announced that it would almost double planned production for its electric F-150. It’s the second time the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker has dramatically ramped up production for the “Lightning” pickup truck.
Initial plans for the electric truck called for the company to build 40,000 trucks before Ford increased its sales target to 80,000 trucks a year, citing a wave of interest. The company announced January 4 it would again increase production targets to aim for 150,000 new models a year.
In a statement, Kumar Galhotra, who leads Ford’s Americas & International Markets group, said the truck had attracted almost 200,000 reservations.
“Ford is pulling out all the stops to scale our operations and increase production capacity,” Galhotra said. The company plans to start delivering the EV trucks in the first half of this year.
General Motors Reveals Silverado EV
A day after Ford’s announcement, General Motors announced it would build its own EV competitor to the F-150 Lightning—an all-electric version of GM’s Silverado pickup. In a press release at the Consumer Electronics Show, CEO Mary Barra revealed the new pickup would be available model year 2024 and would come at the same price point as Ford’s F-150, $40,000. The Silverado and another new EV, an electric version of the Equinox SUV, will put GM electric vehicles in two of the largest vehicle segments in the U.S., GM said.
In addition to the new models, the company’s CES presentation said the company’s delivery-focused EV subsidiary, Brightdrop, had secured new fleet orders from FedEx and Walmart. FedEx received its first shipment of Brightdrop-branded delivery vans late last year.