Signs advertising different brands of General Motors cars are displayed at Stewart Chevrolet on November 9, 2011 in Colma, Calif.

Jeremy Hobson: Move aside, Toyota -- General Motors has reclaimed the title of world's top-selling automaker. It's the first time GM has held the top spot since it was bailed out by the U.S. government after the financial crisis.

But as Marketplace's Amy Scott reports, there's more to the story than just GM.


Amy Scott: Yes, General Motors sold more than 9 million cars and trucks around the globe last year.  But its ranking may have more to do with its rivals' struggles.  Previous number one Toyota saw its sales fall last year to an estimated 8 million. Production was disrupted by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last March.  Just as Toyota was recovering from a spate of safety recalls and bad publicity.

Analyst Dave Sullivan with Auto Pacific says GM has made progress since its bankruptcy in 2009.

Dave Sullivan:They're profitable, they've already gotten rid of their debt, they've got some nice products on the market. But I think they're going to be careful to toot their own horn, because they know that Toyota really suffered last year.

Sullivan says GM also looking over its shoulder at German carmaker Volkswagen.  In 2010 VW surpassed Ford to become the most profitable automaker.  After dominating in Europe, it's expanding in the U.S. and Asia.  VW hopes to be number one in sales and profits by 2018.

I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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