TOKYO— Toyota Motor Corp.’s decision to build a stockpile of chips for its cars paid off by lifting it above perennial top dog General Motors Co. in the U.S. for the first time.
But the Japanese car maker, whose American dealers have supply problems of their own, isn’t thumping its chest about its triumph over Detroit.
Between April and June, Toyota sold 688,813 vehicles in the U.S., giving it a razor-thin 577-unit margin of victory over GM, according to figures from the two companies. It was the first time a Japanese car maker took the top position in the U.S., according to car-shopping website Edmunds.com, and came as the politically sensitive U.S. trade deficit is widening.
“Toyota thinks this was an unusual case due to production constraints and other factors,” spokeswoman Shino Yamada said. She called it a “short-term event for this quarter.”
Toyota bet earlier than most car makers on a recovering U.S. car market. As a result, the company cut production and parts orders less sharply than competitors, making it better prepared for the current surge. But even Toyota wasn’t fully prepared for the frenzy of car buying.