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Auto blogThu, 18 Apr 2013 16:03:00 EST
General Motors released its first quarter sales figures this week, reporting that it sold 2.36 million cars and trucks worldwide. That figure represents an increase of 3.6 percent when compared to the same period last year. GM's growth was attributed to many factors, including global Cadillac sales that were up 26 percent and Chevrolet posting a one percent increase over last year (this marked Chevy's tenth straight year of record global sales).
Volkswagen came in just behind GM, as the German automaker reported global sales from January through March at 2.27 million vehicles, an increase of five percent when compared to last year. While that number was strong, VW is cautioning that markets outside China and the US, such as those in Europe, are becoming a challenge as economies falter.
Yet to report sales is Toyota, current holder of the global world sales crown (the Japanese company sold 9.75 million cars last year, against 9.29 million sold by GM and 9.1 million vehicles sold by VW). Even though GM and Toyota both say they don't care who sells the most units, it is unquestionably a strong bragging point and sales equate to revenue. That said, Toyota will report its first quarter numbers next week.
When Bloomberg spoke to Toyota USA Sales CEO Kazua Ohara recently, we highlighted his comments on the possible return of the Toyota Supra. However, the interview started with Ohara discussing the Tundra, and how it would take time to pinpoint and hone the pickup truck's brand image in the minds of consumers. That effort could get a boost, with a report in Edmunds saying that Toyota is "evaluating" the addition of a Cummins turbodiesel to the Tundra's engine options.
The Cummins powerplant is one of two options for the moment, the other being a hybrid powertrain. If the oil-burner got the thumbs-up, Toyota would follow the recent example of Nissan, which announced it would put a Cummins turbodiesel into its 2015 Titan. While the two Japanese companies make a closer comparison since they're both talking about Cummins applications in light-duty trucks, if it happens, it could be seen as further diluting the once-exclusive tie-up that Ram trucks has had with Cummins even though Ram has used Cummins in its heavy-duty truck.
Toyota hasn't said when it will decide on which direction to take, but either will be a move for the better in the view of segment watchers; PickupTrucks.com said the first of its top-five fixes for the Tundra would be a better engine, perhaps a diesel-electric hybrid from Toyota's Hino unit. Cummins told Edmunds it can supply a second manufacturer with the 5.0-liter diesel that Nissan will be using, so we wouldn't be surprised to see it end up in a Toyota or somewhere else.
Toyota's decision to move its US headquarters from its longtime home in Torrance, CA, to Plano, TX, was one of the biggest stories in the automotive industry this spring. With several months since the announcement, more details about the plan have leaked out. It seems that pulling up stakes could mean an even larger shakeup in the Toyota workforce than first thought.
According to Automotive News, Toyota intends to hang onto around 50 percent of its workforce in the move to the Lone Star State. However, even that figure might be optimistic. According to an unnamed insider speaking to AN, there is a fear the actual number could be closer to 30 percent. For comparison, Nissan retained about 42 percent of its workers in its move from California to Tennessee.
The actual percentage making the move is a mystery because Toyota is still rewriting its job descriptions under a single set of guidelines. The changes affect benefits, bonuses and the reporting structure, according to Automotive News, and employees' reactions could play a big role in who decides to go. According to an unnamed worker speaking to AN, the wait is hurting morale. Some people are even applying at the nearby Honda headquarters.