GM loses global sales crown after 77 years

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp reported an 11 percent drop in global sales in 2008, allowing rival Toyota Motor Corp to surpass it as the world's largest automaker for the first time.

GM, now struggling to restructure under a $13.4 billion U.S. government bailout, had held the title as the global auto industry leader for 77 years and used the line in marketing.

But for 2008, Detroit-based GM said sales tumbled to 8.35 million vehicles, pressured by tightening credit and a slowdown that began in the United States and spread to emerging markets where GM has been stronger.

GM shares fell 26 cents or 7.4 percent to $3.24 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday near midday.

Earlier this week, Toyota said its global sales for 2008 had slipped 4 percent to 8.97 million vehicles as it also battled a costly slowdown in key markets.

Both GM and Toyota downplayed the significance of the shift in market leadership.

"Share doesn't always pay the bills," Don Esmond, Toyota's senior vice president for U.S. operations, said at an industry conference when asked about Toyota capturing the No. 1 spot after years of gaining on GM.

GM and Toyota ended 2007 with a virtual tie.

GM sold 9.369 million vehicles, including those sold through SAIC-GM-Wuling, a commercial vehicle joint-venture in China in which the U.S. automaker has a minority stake.

Toyota sold 9.366 million vehicles for 2007.

GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner had vowed to defend the company's global sales leadership, saying the title was a point of pride for the automaker.

But with GM reliant on federal funding to avoid bankruptcy, GM Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson said late on Tuesday that the automaker had been forced to focus on other measures of the success of its turnaround.

"I actually noticed that they passed us in market capitalization, profitability and cash flow long ago," Henderson said of Toyota.

GM, which faces an end-March deadline to demonstrate to U.S. officials that it can be made viable, has a market capitalization of just under $2 billion.

Toyota has a market value of about $117 billion. Like GM, it has had to cut North American production and delay new investment. The Japanese automaker has warned that it will post its first-ever operating loss this fiscal year.

When asked about Toyota, GM's sales analyst Mike DiGiovanni said every major automaker was focused on profitability and survival amid the industry's worst downturn in decades.

"I don't think being No. 1 in global sales means much at all to the average consumer," he told reporters and analysts on a conference call. "I think it's an internal benchmark of our industry, but it really doesn't mean anything to the consumer."

But he also noted that GM had beat Toyota in sales in 17 of the 26 emerging markets the automaker tracks, including the big markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

In 2008, GM sold 64 percent of its vehicles outside the United States, up from 59 percent a year earlier.

GM's sales in its home market dropped by 20 percent in 2008 but it posted gains of 10 percent in Brazil, 30 percent in Russia, 9 percent in India and 6 percent in China.

Despite a slow start to 2009, DiGiovanni said GM expected upcoming fiscal stimulus packages from the United States, China and other governments would boost demand in the second half of the year.

"We feel we've weathered one hell of a storm, and we're cautiously optimistic as we move into '09 that we can stabilize and grow again," he said.

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Former President Barack Obama sat down with CNN's Anderson Cooper recently for an interview scheduled to air in full on Friday. During the interview, Obama scoffed at the idea that critical race theory could be a "threat to our Republic," while claiming that "right-wing media venues" are "stoking the fear and resentment of a white population."

On the radio program Wednesday, Glenn Beck set the record straight: the right-wing media's efforts to call out the far-left have nothing to do with race in America, but rather everything to do with protecting our way of life that is being threatened more and more each day by the radical, Marxist ideology seeping into government.

"Mr. Obama, you lied," Glenn asserted. "You used the IRS to hunt down your enemy. You spied on the media. And your health care package, which was supposed to save every American $3,000 per year, has helped some, perhaps, while raising the cost of everyone's health care in double and triple percentages. But the worst thing that you did, is you planted, you watered, and you protected the Marxist seeds, by crying race."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:

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Our sacred republic has never been in more danger than it is today. Little by little, industry by industry, the far Left is fundamentally transforming the country we love. And it's an aggressive, hostile kind of takeover we've only seen in some of the world's darkest societies.

On Glenn TV this week, Glenn Beck exposes how the Biden administration and Democrats are aggressively scrambling to reset everything: our free and fair voting system, our kids' education, our policing, immigration and border security, our economy, our military, and our energy supply.

Finally, Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) joins to discuss how Biden's "woke" policies are threatening America's national security and our way of life.

Watch the full episode below:

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Apparel company The North Face recently stated that it would no longer make jackets for oil and gas companies because it doesn't want to be associated with the fossil fuel industry. In response, Colorado-based oil and gas company Liberty Oilfield Services rented full billboard ads to remind The North Face of the truth: "Globally, 60% of all clothing fibers are made out of oil and gas. For North Face, it is likely 90% or more."

Liberty CEO Chris Wright joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday to discuss just how much of our economy — beyond outdoor apparel and energy — wouldn't exist in a world without fossil fuels. And he warns that many companies are now deeming this truth to be "controversial."

"I have been for years, trying to get a real, honest dialogue about energy going," Chris told Glenn. "So we took this opportunity to point out that North Face jackets are ... almost completely made out of oil and gas. How can you choose not to associate with the essential material your equipment [is] made out of? So we put a billboard up ... the billboard says, 'That North Face puffer looks good on you. And it was made from fossil fuels.'"

"Most billboard companies did not want to run that billboard. They thought it was controversial," he added. "And Facebook put a hold on our brief video just saying the jacket looks good, this is what it's made out of. In today's world, that is controversial."

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During a lecture at the Yale School of Medicine's Child Study Center, a New York City-based psychiatrist told students and faculty that she fantasizes about "unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way," among several other shockingly race-hating statements.

In April, Dr. Aruna Khilanani — a New York-based forensic psychiatrist and psychoanalyst — delivered the talk called "The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind" virtually as part of the Yale School of Medicine's "Child Study Center Grand Rounds," a lecture program for "trainees in child psychiatry, psychology, and social work, faculty, clinicians, and scientists."

On the radio program Monday, Glenn Beck shared several quotes from an audio recording of the lecture provided by Bari Weiss, a former opinion writer and editor for the New York Times.

Here are a few of Khilanani's statements from the audio:

  • "This is the cost of talking to white people at all. The cost of your own life, as they suck you dry. There are no good apples out there. White people make my blood boil."
  • "I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a f***ing favor."
  • "White people are out of their minds. And they have been for a long time."
  • "White people feel that we are bullying them when we bring up race. They feel that we should be thanking them for all that they have done for us. They are confused, and so are we. We keep forgetting that directly talking about race is a waste of our breath."
  • "We are asking a demented, violent predator who thinks that they are a saint or a superhero, to accept responsibility. It ain't gonna happen. They have five holes in their brain. It's like banging your head against a brick wall. It's just like sort of not a good idea."

"We must take a stand. We must speak out, because this is evil," Glenn said in response to Khilanani's shocking lecture. "I don't care who you voted for, you know this is evil."

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