Volkswagen wants to unseat Toyota as number one by 2018. When they announced that strategy, it was widely discounted as Wolfsburg hubris, and as a goal so far out that nobody will recall nine years down the road that the goal has ever been set. Or as the saying goes in Wolfsburg: “In 2018, I’ll be retired.”
A few days ago, The Guardian reported that in the first 9 months of 2009, Volkswagen/Porsche made 4.4 million cars whereas Toyota made 4 million. Which ignited speculations that VeeDub may have reached its elusive goal 9 years early. Then the usual count of apples and oranges ensued, and after the joint ventures with minority stakes were included, Toyota nosed ahead.
Everybody calm down. Volkswagen is years away from overtaking Toyota, reports Das Autohaus. Surprise, surprise, arch rival GM is nipping at Toyota’s heels.
According to an analysis by alleged auto expert Stefan Bratzel, Toyota should close out the year with 7.49m units sold. Bratzel, who is a professor for economics in Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany, sees GM selling only 65000 units less than Toyota. 65K! With a little channel stuffing and creative accounting, GM might be number one. If Bratzel has his numbers right. Bratzel expects Volkswagen to sell 6.17m units in 2009 and to remain solidly in the #3 position. Bratzel sees Toyota and GM performing a head-to-head race for the number one spot in 2010 also.
The battlefield where most of this is fought is China. GM grows faster in China than Volkswagen, both grow much faster in China than Toyota. According to Bratzel, Toyota lost more in the USA than GM. However, data by Automotive News [sub] don’t support that claim. Automotive News says that in the first ten months of 2009, Toyota was down 26 percent in the US, while GM shed 34 percent. Today, the Nikkei [sub] reports that in October, Toyota posted its first year-on-year global sales growth in 15 months. According to the Nikkei “North American sales were essentially flat from a year earlier.” Oh yeah?
Are we confused yet? Didn’t we hear that GM had long been kicked off the #2 podium? Hasn’t Veedub been feted as #2 for most of the year? Guess we’ll have to wait for the good folks at OICA for the definitive word. Which will take a while.