End of a 77-year reign for GM

Toyota Motors is now the world`s biggest carmarker knocking General Motors off the top spot for the first time in 77 years.

Global sales for the Detroit company dropped to 8.35m last year allowing Toyota's 8.97m sales to snatch top spot.

GM`s shipments fell by 11%, compared to Toyota`s 4% fall. Taking the industry as a whole, last year`s vehicle sales fell by 3.5m.

Mike DiGiovanni, GM's sales analyst, was reported in the Financial Times as brushing off the company`s fall from the top saying the firm was "really focused on being a healthy, profitable company."

Top carmarkers are now looking to the future which they hope will prove to be plug-in rechargeable cars.

Competition between companies is as intense as ever and Mr DiGiovanni was reported as saying GM was still ahead in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, with the majority of its cars been sold outside of North America in 2008.

By February 17 both GM and Chrysler should have submitted turnaround plans to the US Government, focusing on their emergency loans and possibly a request for more money.

Copyright © Press Association 2009