The news out of Tokyo that Toyota eclipsed General Motors in 1Q sales is likely to elicit the usual round of "Detroit is dying" stories in the media. However, this news is not a surprise and does not mean Detroit is dead. Are the Big Three struggling to find their way domestically and globally? You bet.
What many people fail to appreciate is that Toyota has become #1 worldwide not just because of its success in the U.S., where sales jumped more than 10% last year, but in Europe, where the Japanese automaker has become a major force. Toyota's work in Europe rarely gets the credit it deserves. Just a few years ago, Toyota was a bit player in Europe and roundly dismissed by many of the traditional players there. Not anymore. And it's just scratching the surface.
Mulally Greenhouse Comments
During a conference call with reporters regarding the promotion of Susan Chischke to Senior Vice President for sustainability, environment and safety engineering, Ford CEO Alan Mulally admitted he believed in global warming. A few years ago, this kind of comment from a Big Three CEO would be shocking. Not anymore.
Mulally's candor, along with the growing evidence there is global warming, makes his comments fall in to the category of "Yeah, so what's new?"
What's new is Ford taking a greater interest in finding a way to make its cars cleaner and more fuel efficient. Many in Detroit say they want lower emissions, Mulally is actually stepping up and saying it's a priority at Ford.
It remains to be seen if he succeeds and if Ford can actually roll out a steady stream of cleaner cars and trucks that sell. But for now, give Mulally credit at least for publicly acknowledging the importance of publicly stating global warming is a reality.
Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com