Easy Come, Easy Go: Volkswagen Overtaken By Toyota – Forbes

Posted: Wednesday, March 29, 2017

By the end of last year, Volkswagen Group’s dearest wish was fulfilled, and VW was declared world’s largest automaker – at least officially. Two months into the new year, it looks like the win may already be slipping through Volkswagen’s fingers Arch nemesis Toyota Motor Corp reported today global production numbers nearly a quarter million ahead of Volkswagen.

Toyota’s worldwide production (including Daihatsu and Hino) grew a whopping 9.4% in the first two months of this year. Tokyo-based spokesperson Kayo Doi points to strong production starts in ASEAN markets, and to the fact that in the first months of last year, her employer grappled with an exploding steel mill in Aichi, Japan, which paralyzed Japanese production for a short while, along with skewing the year-on-year percentages.

Volkswagen suffered a nearly 10% decline in its core market China in January and February. Stronger sales in Europe and the U.S.A. could not make up for the decline. On the back of troubles in China, Volkswagen’s profit machine Audi was down 7.7% in the same period. In China, Audi has a dealer revolt on its hands. Audi plans a Chinese joint venture together with SAIC, in addition to the current JV with FAW. SAIC and FAW sell through separate channels in China, and Chinese Audi dealers are understandably worried about losing business on top of already soft Audi sales. There are reports in German media that some of Audi’s Chinese dealers are “boycotting imported Audis.” Audi denied the rumors.

Last year’s number 3 General Motors position in the race is more unclear than ever. The company releases global delivery data only quarterly. Also, GM sold its European Opel business to PSA Peugeot-Citroen, which will impact its global deliveries by roughly one million per year. I have asked PSA when and how they will recognize Opel deliveries as theirs. No answer was received.

The new number 3 on the list most likely is the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Last year, it missed its spot on the podium by a mere 3,891 units. With Opel eating into GM’s numbers, the French/Japanese group should have no trouble remaining among the top 3. I have requested global data from the Alliance, and will update this article when I have them.

Note: This analysis tracks production, not sales, because this is how the world automaker umbrella organization OICA ranks automakers. Due to the different methodologies of their measurement, “sales” numbers have proven to be unreliable, and prone to ‘sales reporting abuses,” as recent scandals in the U.S., along with rampant “self-registrations” in the EU have shown.

Toyota reports both sales and production, this takes production. Volkswagen reports “deliveries” to wholesale – which is, at least for this exercise, close enough to production.

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