Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda gestures to media during a press conference regarding battery EV strategies on Dec. 14, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

KYODO NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK —  Toyota Motor Corp. outsold General Motors Co. in the U.S. last year with new car sales of 2.33 million, clinching the top spot in the market for the first time despite a chip crunch.

Toyota became the first non-U.S. carmaker to top the annual sales ranking in the country, dethroning GM that had been the No. 1 seller since 1931, according to U.S. media.

The Japanese automaker said Tuesday its new vehicle sales in the U.S. in 2021 increased 10.4 percent from the year before to 2,332,262 units. Toyota had ramped up procurement efforts to navigate through the semiconductor crisis.

GM sold 2,218,228 vehicles last year, down 12.9 percent from the previous year as the chip shortage and supply chain disruptions forced many of its North American factories to halt production.

Toyota’s sedans, such as the Corolla and Camry, as well as its Tacoma pickup trucks sold particularly well, according to the Japanese company.

However, Toyota’s top-seller status may be short-lived as GM predicts its sales will expand this year with gradual improvement in the supply issue.

Toyota said it does not believe it can maintain the No. 1 position and being the top seller is not the company’s top priority.

“We thank our customers as well as all of our employees engaged in sales and production of our cars in the United States,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda told reporters online.

The new car sales in the U.S. of six major Japanese automakers rose 8.6 percent in 2021 from a year earlier to a total of 5.80 million vehicles, with a recovery of economic activity following the initial shock of the coronavirus pandemic.

Honda Motor Co. sold 1,466,630 cars and Nissan Motor Co. 977,639 vehicles, up 8.9 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively. The U.S. sales of Mazda Motor Corp. increased 19.2 percent to 332,756 and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. 16.8 percent to 102,037 vehicles.

Subaru Corp., on the other hand, saw a 4.6 percent drop in U.S. sales to 583,810 units. Ford Motor Co. has yet to announce its annual sales figure for 2021 but trailed Toyota by a wide margin in the January-November period last year.

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