At the sidelines of the Detroit Motor Show, GM conceded what we had said all along: Toyota is the world’s largest Automaker again, with GM in #2, and – surprise – Volkswagen right behind GM.
After Toyota had announced, on a preliminary basis, that they had produced 9.92 million units in 2012, and sold 9.7 million, Volkswagen announced on Monday global deliveries of 9.1 million for the year. We expected GM to announce, as usual, when they surrender the report for their last quarter.
Reporters that had arrived in division-strength in Detroit bugged GM until it released sales of 9.29 million to the Associated Press.
For us, this is an anticlimactic event, we had predicted this outcome for most of the year, and we declared winner and podium positions last month. As remarked here ad nauseam, the number we want is production, not sales. We will update the numbers once we have them end of the month from Toyota and some time in February from GM. Not that this would change the ranking.
When Toyota became #1 in 2008, they warned internally not to celebrate this, because it was won due to the weakness of an opponent, not because of one’s own strength. Now, the #1 slot was won in a growing market, and through heroic efforts.,
Two items are remarkable about last year: The speed with which Toyota dug itself out of the hole caused by earthquake, tsunami, and Thai flood. And how narrow the distance between #3 Volkswagen and #2 GM has grown. Separated by a comfortable margin for most of the year, in the end GM finished only 229,000 units ahead of Volkswagen. Volkswagen’s global growth in 2012 (11.2 percent) is much stronger than that of GM (2.9 percent). If they keep that up, GM will land in rank 3 this year.