It’s the hottest road race of the year. Who are the champs and who are the chumps of the global auto industry? Everybody who’s somebody wants to become a statistic in “world motor vehicle production by manufacturer.” Officially, that race is not over until the fat lady at OICA, the “Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles” or International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, sings. OICA still has the 2007 numbers on their website. Yet, General Motors has already conceded the top post to Toyota. All other manufacturers have already announced their numbers. While OICA is taking their good old time counting, the Nikkei [sub] performed its own tally.
The Nikkei’s bottom line: “The three leading U.S. automakers fell backward in rankings of global auto sales in 2008, losing out to Japanese rivals specializing in subcompacts and to South Korean and German carmakers enjoying strong footholds in emerging markets.”
It’s already old hat that Government Motors relinquished its 76-year post as the world’s No. 1 automaker to Toyota. GM’s sales had dropped 10.8 percent for the year, while Toyota dropped only 4.2 percent. Last year GM could maintain its master of the universe status only with creative bookkeeping. Number 3 is Volkswagen, up from number 4 in the previous year. Volkswagen was the only maker in the top 5 with a gain, as slight as 0.6 percent may be. Hot on VW’s heels is Renault-Nissan. Ford has been tossed far away from the podium. With a loss of 17.5 percent in the year, Ford is now only Number 5, followed (the outrage, the shame) by Hyundai. Honda is 7, PSA 8, Suzuki ranks 9. Fiat proudly enters the Top 10 in 10th place. And lest we forget that there was something called the Detroit Three, the Nikkei rubs it in by showing the Top Eleven: With a whopping loss of 25 percent, the largest on the list, Chrysler, formerly Number 9, now plays in the Junior League in 11th place.
All in all, sales at the 10 top global automakers and their partners slipped 5.8 percent in 2008. The Nikkei: “The woes are likely to continue in 2009, when the rankings could get another shake-up depending on merger and acquisition activity.”