Today, Toyota announced its revised sales plan for the calendar year 2012. The plan exceeds an already ambitious plan submitted in December. It also exceeds the numerical comprehension skills of journalists from the Wall Street Journal on down.
“The new target still falls well short of the more than 9 million vehicles sold last year by the world’s largest auto maker, General Motors Co., meaning Toyota is unlikely to easily win back the No. 1 spot anytime soon.
Toyota expects to sell 100,000 more vehicles than it previously expected in its home market this year as a result of a government decision last month to reintroduce subsidies for fuel-efficient cars.
That expected boost caused it to raise its global sales target by the same amount to 8.58 million vehicles, representing a 21% gain on the previous year.”
So says the Wall Street Journal, and it is not true. Its Tokyo reporter Yoshio Takahashi should know better, but for some reason, he does not. Takahashi-san, and the WSJ fell into a trap trained observers of the numbers game know to avoid. The Wall Street Journal mistook the Toyota brand’s numbers for the numbers of all of Toyota. Which also includes Daihatsu and Hino.
Let’s go step by step. In today’s press release, and with little fanfare, Toyota disclosed sales numbers for 2011. Here they are:
As expected, Toyota’s global sales were below 8 million, 7.95 million to be exact. This puts Toyota squarely in the #3 position behind GM and Volkswagen, a ranking which we had predicted for many months.
Today, Toyota also disclosed a revised sales plan for 2012. Here it is:
This plan is 100,000 units higher than the December plan on more optimistic sales projections for Japan. The plan was up-revised after the Japanese government announced that it would continue to subsidize fuel-efficient cars (which is pretty much a subsidy for most cars in Japan.)
Now where is the mistake? The 8.58 million are for the Toyota (and Lexus) brands only. They do not include Daihatsu and Hino. Once you are in the context of the more than 9 million cars sold by GM, you need to stay in the context of all brands. Kudos to Reuters and Bloomberg for getting it right.
What is Toyota’s projection as a whole? Toyota does not make one. Neither last December not today does TMC project numbers for Daihatsu and Hino. If one would raise TMC as a whole by 21 percent, the number would be 9.6 million, and far greater than what GM reported for last year. To do so however would be reckless, Toyota does not give a basis for this assumption. However, even if one would assume that Daihatsu’s and Hino’s sales would be flat, the grand total for this year would be 9.4 million. If Toyota delivers on the plan published today, that is.
All we know today: This year, the race for the top spot will have much more suspense than last year.