Toyota released global production numbers for the first quarter of 2013 today, which gives us a chance to officially initiate our 2013 tracking of the World’s Largest Automakers, based on hard data. Having made 2.5 million units in the first three months, Toyota maintains its lead over runner-up GM and third-place Volkswagen, however, the field is tight.
|Tracking the world’s largest|
|automakers: Q1 2013|
|Q1’13||Q1 ’12||YoY||Full Year Est.|
|Source: Company data. Toyota: Production, GM: Sales.VW: Deliveries|
|TTAC rough estimate|
In the first quarter, Toyota is 154,000 units ahead of GM, only 91,000 units behind GM follows Volkswagen. Toyota had planned for a flat 2013 to digest the large increases in the prior year. Asked why his company is down by seven percent in the first quarter, Tokyo-based Toyota spokesman Dion Corbett said that this is largely a mathematical phenomenon: “In the first quarter of 2012, we were still in the catch-up phase and worked overtime after the natural disasters of 2011.” Indeed, Toyota’s worldwide output in the first quarter of 2012 had jumped 66 percent over the first quarter of 2011, which had only be down 14 percent compared to the prior year. The full impact of the disasters was felt only in the months later.
The on-going troubles of Japanese brands in China affected the Q1 results, but only marginally. Toyota’s first quarter production in China stood at 176,000 units, Corbett says. That is down 17.2 percent. In a tight race like this year’s however, every unit counts.
Overall, Toyota is well positioned to maintain its lead throughout the year, and to end the year as the first automaker to pass the 10 million unit mark. A lot can and does happen throughout the year, and the race is still winnable by all three, with varying degrees of difficulty. Volkswagen is held back by a dismal Europe, however, via Opel, GM has to contend with the same problem, albeit to a lesser numerical degree. Toyota’s exposure in Europe is minor. GM and Volkswagen are neck-on-neck in China, where Toyota will continue to suffer. All three are well established to profit from a growing U.S. market, GM and Toyota more so than VW. Slightly off most RADARs, Toyota will gain most from a surging Southeast Asian market. 2012 total sales in the region (including India) exceeded 9 million, with most indicators pointing up. Toyota’s sales in the region were around 1.5 million. “That’s roughly double of what we sell in China, and in China, we have to share,” quipped a Toyota executive a while ago.