GM Poised To Reclaim World's No. 1 Automaker Title

General Motors is about to surpass Toyota in sales. That's after Toyota cut its sales projections following supply chain disruption because of this year's earthquake and tsunami. The last time GM beat Toyota worldwide was in 2008.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Honda is not the only Japanese carmaker shaken by the earthquake and tsunami. Toyota was, too, and General Motors is now poised to surpass Toyota in sales to become the world's top automaker again. The last time GM beat Toyota worldwide was 2008.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports on what being number one could mean for GM.

SONARI GLINTON: You'd think that after some extremely tough years, the fact that General Motors is headed toward the number spot would make GM executives run around the building, high-fiving, pouring some out for their homies.

Unidentified Group: (Chanting) We're number one. We're number one. We're number one.

Unidentified Man: Go GM.

(Soundbite of cheering)

GLINTON: That's not how GM is handling the news this time. Alan Adler is a GM spokesman, and he's more like, meh.

Mr. ALAN ADLER (GM Spokesman): We don't run the business based on being the number-one sales company. We had that for 77 years.

GLINTON: Adler says he'd rather GM be profitable and valuable to its shareholders.

Mr. ADLER: We run the business based on designing - building and selling the world's best vehicles. Now, if that works out to make you number one, then that's a great thing.

Ms. REBECCA LINDLAND (Analyst, IHS Automotive): The automaker will always deny that they care.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GLINTON: Rebecca Lindland is an analyst with IHS Automotive. She says being number one for GM does come with some upsides.

Ms. LINDLAND: You know, the number one automaker in the world has a nice ring to it, especially the way that they're doing it now, where they would be profitable and be able to make that claim.

GLINTON: Lindland says being number one and being profitable is a very good combination for GM. That is, she says, if the company doesn't fall back on old, bad habits and get too focused on being number one and not on being profitable.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News.

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