Who's On First? Toyota? VW? Or, Gasp, GM?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
who s on first toyota vw or gasp gm

Volkswagen wants to unseat Toyota as number one by 2018. When they announced that strategy, it was widely discounted as Wolfsburg hubris, and as a goal so far out that nobody will recall nine years down the road that the goal has ever been set. Or as the saying goes in Wolfsburg: “In 2018, I’ll be retired.”

A few days ago, The Guardian reported that in the first 9 months of 2009, Volkswagen/Porsche made 4.4 million cars whereas Toyota made 4 million. Which ignited speculations that VeeDub may have reached its elusive goal 9 years early. Then the usual count of apples and oranges ensued, and after the joint ventures with minority stakes were included, Toyota nosed ahead.

Everybody calm down. Volkswagen is years away from overtaking Toyota, reports Das Autohaus. Surprise, surprise, arch rival GM is nipping at Toyota’s heels.

According to an analysis by alleged auto expert Stefan Bratzel, Toyota should close out the year with 7.49m units sold. Bratzel, who is a professor for economics in Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany, sees GM selling only 65000 units less than Toyota. 65K! With a little channel stuffing and creative accounting, GM might be number one. If Bratzel has his numbers right. Bratzel expects Volkswagen to sell 6.17m units in 2009 and to remain solidly in the #3 position. Bratzel sees Toyota and GM performing a head-to-head race for the number one spot in 2010 also.

The battlefield where most of this is fought is China. GM grows faster in China than Volkswagen, both grow much faster in China than Toyota. According to Bratzel, Toyota lost more in the USA than GM. However, data by Automotive News [sub] don’t support that claim. Automotive News says that in the first ten months of 2009, Toyota was down 26 percent in the US, while GM shed 34 percent. Today, the Nikkei [sub] reports that in October, Toyota posted its first year-on-year global sales growth in 15 months. According to the Nikkei “North American sales were essentially flat from a year earlier.” Oh yeah?

Are we confused yet? Didn’t we hear that GM had long been kicked off the #2 podium? Hasn’t Veedub been feted as #2 for most of the year? Guess we’ll have to wait for the good folks at OICA for the definitive word. Which will take a while.

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3 of 21 comments
  • Steven02 Steven02 on Nov 18, 2009

    Who really cares who is number one in total vehicles sold? Going after goals like this instead of being profitable is only going to hurt. Just ask GM.

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Nov 18, 2009

    Actually, whoever penned the "Strategy 2018" for VW had listened to the requests voiced here. Not only does VW want to leave Toyota in the dust in unit sales. But also in terms of innovation, customer satisfaction, and profitability. There you have it. Good luck with that.

    • Wsn Wsn on Nov 18, 2009

      GM should really sue VW for stealing their turn-around strategy.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂