By on April 24, 2013

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.
Toyota 2,515,414 2,705,770 -7.0% 10,061,656
GM 2,360,958 2,278,192 3.6% 9,443,832
Volkswagen 2,270,000 2,160,000 5.1% 9,080,000
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.

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5 Comments on “World’s Largest Carmakers 2013: Tight Race Could be Won By All Three...”


  • avatar
    CapVandal

    How about the most profitable car company?

    Never mind.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Even with less export dependence than they used to have, the crash of the yen virtually guarantees Toyota the win.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    The only thing that should matter is the most profitable, not the biggest number out there.

    I’m seeing this as a useless race and one that is destined to get whoever wins it in trouble.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    This just in…

    TOKYO (AP) — Toyota held onto its status as the world’s top-selling automaker in the first quarter of this year, although the three-way race with General Motors and Volkswagen is proving tight, as its sales fall in China and Japan.

  • avatar

    General Motors 2.0 doesn’t really belong in the top three. They are bound to keep shrinking. Volkswagen is gaining market share in Europe in the recession at the expense of PSA, Opel etc, which means they will be in a good position in Europe when the European economy picks up speed again. Toyota is very slowly gaining in Europe, they can’t shed the image as boring rice cookers. But they don’t need Europe to be biggest when they do so well in America and Asia.


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