We have been saying it since May, but it took Bloomberg (along with the rest of the copypasting media) until a few days ago to realize that GM’s reign as the World’s Largest Automaker is coming to an end. GM regained the title in 2011 from a tsunami-ravaged Toyota. Toyota has been bouncing back strongly ever since. Toyota’s worldwide production is up 30 percent for the year, while GM was seen treading water when they last published global numbers in October.
|November Production and Full Year Forecast|
|11M ’12||11M ’11||YoY||Proj ’12|
|Black: Company data. Blue: Projection, based on last available|
|Toyota, GM: Production. VW: Deliveries. Forecast by TTAC|
Toyota’s worldwide production, including Daihatsu and Hino stood at 9.25 million by end of November, Toyota said today. Volkswagen, which released global data earlier in the month, is a million behind, churning out 8.29 million units globally from January through November.
GM sits somewhere in-between, where exactly will remain a mystery until GM releases its annual report for 2012, some time in February. Why a world-class carmaker cannot keep track of its worldwide activities on a monthly basis is hard to understand. Until GM releases numbers, we need to interpolate from its September data. In the past, the interpolation was reasonably accurate, if a little optimistic.
Unless the Mayans are right, Toyota should close out the year with around (but probably not quite) 10 million units made. Volkswagen is expected to report some 9 million units, and GM a few hundred thousand more. Unless Bloomberg has inside knowledge of a massive slowdown at GM, we don’t see how it is possible for Bloomberg to say that “the fight for second between Volkswagen and GM remains too close to call.”
Looking ahead to 2013, the company to watch is Volkswagen. The company has huge momentum which could carry it past GM as soon as the first half of 2013. In the world’s largest car market China, Volkswagen outsold GM in the third quarter, and is likely to do the same in the fourth. Volkswagen is set to unseat GM in China in the coming year. Volkswagen is relatively unscathed by the European contagion, GM on the other hand is down 12.7 percent in Europe January-November. Volkswagen is busy adding production capacity in China, and appears to profit from Japanese weaknesses in China.
To clear up any confusion, TTAC’s tracking of who is where in the race for World’s Largest Automaker tries to replicate as much as possible the methodology used by OICA. The umbrella organization of the world’s automakers publishes the annual list that actually determines who is the largest.
- OICA uses production, not sales. “Sales” has turned into a very bendable term, especially on a global basis.
- OICA uses production data as reported by automakers via their national association. Data released by manufacturers in their annual or quarterly reports usually come closest to the final OICA numbers, although there have been slight deviations in the past.
- OICA captures data on a group basis, including all joint ventures. If certain alliances, such as Renault/Nissan, do not want to be counted jointly, OICA does not do it either, and nor should we.
We all know that GM has its rank only due to Wuling, but we can’t take Wuling off. If Volkswagen recognizes Porsche only as of August 2012, then one should not generously give Volkswagen all Porsche sales, as it repeatedly happened in the media. Reporters are often thrown off by Toyota, which likes to omit China from its production forecasts, only to include China when the production is reported.
With the exception of brash, but honest Volkswagen, manufacturers often play down the importance of the ranking. Well, officially, “the important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part,” a line popular with losers. Some will say that the ranking should be determined by transaction price, without joint ventures, on a brand level, and so forth. Good suggestions, write a letter to OICA.