Japanese carmakers published worldwide sales and production numbers for April and the first four months of the year today. As expected, they look pretty wild, with triple digit percentage gains. Hidden in the numbers: Toyota stands good chances to regain the title World’s Largest Carmaker, which it lost last year.
For April, Toyota reported worldwide production gains of 129 percent, Nissan is up 49 percent, Honda a whopping 154 percent. These numbers compare with a post-tsunami April. They will remain wild for months to come, as we compare with a truly disastrous year.
Global Production 4 Months 2012
|4M ’12||4M ’11||YoY||Proj ’12|
|* GM estimate based on Q1, 4 month data unavailable|
What is more interesting is that Toyota solidified its lead in the race for the world’s largest carmaker of 2012. Toyota lost this title last year. The title was already lost in the first quarter of 2011, and the loss became bigger and more painful as one disaster followed the other. Finally, Toyota finished third behind GM and Volkswagen.
Toyota regained the lead early in the year, and kept building on that lead in April. Four months into the year, Toyota produced 600,000 units more than number three Volkswagen, and most likely 250,000 units more than second placed GM. GM did not make global production data available for April, we are using a straight line estimate from Q1 2012. The reality most likely is not as rosy as this straight line projection. Note that we are using production numbers, because production numbers will be used to declare the winner when the year is over.
Looking forward, Volkswagen’s growth is likely to slow further as Europe’s number one carmaker is dragged down with the rest of the market. GM’s Opel will be affected badly in Europe. GM had zero growth in the U.S. in the first four months. Toyota does not have much to lose in the Old Country, while being on a tear in Japan and the U.S.
Nevertheless, the race is far from decided, at least as far as GM and Toyota are concerned. Toyota plants in Japan and the U.S. are redlining and most likely need to slow down a bit.