By on August 5, 2011

In June, we made a projection of who will be where on the podium of the world’s largest automakers by the end of 2011. Now that half year results of most majors are in, we can have another look. Suddenly, the race gets tighter, and it could remain interesting till the end.
First, let’s see where we stand at halftime.

H1 10 H1 11 Growth
GM 4.34 4.73 8.9%
VW 3.61 4.18 15.8%
Toyota 4.36 3.38 -22.5%

GM leads with 4.73 million units made in the first six months of 2011, followed by Volkswagen with 4.18 million and Toyota with 3.38 million.

Toyota has been hit badly by the effects of the March 11 tsunami and is down 22.5 percent. GM is up, by 8.9 percent. Most impressive is Volkswagen’s growth with 15.8 percent.

All data are global data which have been pulled from official financial and press releases of the respective companies. To comply with OICA, numbers are production numbers if available. Percentages have been calculated. If percentages do not agree with press releases, tough. We prefer to do our own math instead of cribbing numbers from a communiqué.

Now on to how the end result could look like. This is how we projected the numbers: For Volkswagen and GM, we raised the 2010 results as reported to OICA by the growth rate the carmaker registered in the first half of 2011. For Toyota, we took the official projection for the end of 2011. The 2010 OICA numbers were taken as the year-end number of 2010 instead of the numbers reported in the year end reports, because we want to replicate the OICA methodology as closely as possible.

And this is how this admittedly crude projector projects.

2010 2011 Growth
GM 8.48 9.23 8.9%
VW 7.34 8.50 15.8%
Toyota 8.56 8.04 -6.0%

As you can see, the race now looks a little tighter than in June, when the contenders were more than a million apart. Why is that so? GM’s global growth has slackened. Volkswagen has kept its double-digit pace. Toyota has big plans for the second half of 2011.

Still, with GM a (projected) 730,000 in front of Volkswagen and Toyota a (projected) 460,000 behind VW, the race looks pretty much a done deal. But it’s far from decided. GM seems safe. But if VW doesn’t keep up its strong pace, and Toyota finishes a few more Prii prior to year’s end, Volkswagen will have to try again next year.

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12 Comments on “World’s Largest Automakers Of 2011 (Projected): The Race Gets A Little Tighter...”

  • avatar

    While Toyota has been affected by the quake to a great extend, I would say it wasn’t the only factor that put GM on the top. GM was outselling Toyota by a big margin even prior to the quake in 2011. The quake only widened the gap.

    Global Sales Toyota GM
    January 597,123 734,224
    February 531,934 701,445
    March 664,587 813,894
    Total 1Q 1,793,644 2,249,563

    Hopefully 2012 will be repeat even after you consider the fact that there will be a huge pent up demand for Toyota vehicles in Japan and North America.

    I understand sales numbers mean nothing, but for the average person who does not follow the auto industry , it can mean a lot. Most people still think GM as a dead/dying car company. They have no idea it is the top seller in the US and among the top 3 in the world. Early next year all the media outlets will be covering the story of how GM is back to number 1 and that might change people’s perceptions.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      “Hopefully 2012 will be repeat even after you consider the fact that there will be a huge pent up demand for Toyota vehicles in Japan and North America.”

      From the North American perspective I see some pent up demand for the new 2012 Toyota Camry vs. Chevrolet Malibu. Just fixing the ugly bump on the Camry’s nose should boost it’s sales. OTOH, the Chevrolet Cruze beats the Toyota Corolla on looks and a Corolla redesign isn’t due for two more years. Big unknown is how well the new larger Darth Vader Passat sells.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @George B- Chevrolet is pulling ahead the brand new 2013 Malibu to meet Camry head on next spring. There will be a lot of new products from GM as their product pipeline refills after the disruption of the auto collapse and bankruptcy. GM was outselling Toyota even before the earthquake hurt their production capacity.

        @Bertel- Be careful assuming production = sales. Certainly production totals will equal sales in the fullness of time, but they can vary substantially in time frames up to a year. My analysis of sales data when I was with GM disclosed that it takes up to two years or more to completely sell out a model year. Dealer stock is a buffer, and production volumes can be pulled ahead in preparation for planned plant shut downs. These issues can cause variation in the hundreds of thousands for the biggest players over narrow timeframes.

    • 0 avatar

      Where did you find global sales of GM? GM releases global sales only on a quarterly basis.

  • avatar


    Why are the numbers off a little? The other media outlets report GM at 4.53 and Toyota at 3.71.

  • avatar

    These look like reasonable predictions. Key question is if Toyota’s plans (plans being the operative word) come to fruition. VW and GM have demonstrated for 7 months this year continued, sustainable growth. So estimates for them should be solid. Toyota may not succeed in their plan.
    The 2012 Camry is due out, not sure what bump that gives – not much on a global level certainly. Chevy responds within 6 months with the new Malibu – competition is great!

  • avatar

    Al Ra

    For those who don’t know, GM can now compete. For decades the playing field was much in favor of the Japanese. The Japanese build factories decades ago in the USA and had huge advantages. They did not have to pay a single retiree…for they had none (over 1million for GM), CAFE fell right in their hands because they built only small cars where the domestic made trucks and had to average the gas mileage with those gas guzzling trucks….. it made it impossible to compete. Basically what I’m saying is our Government almost killed the domestic car builders..

    Today with the new CAFE just proposed recently, trucks will not be averaged like they were in the past. The domestic are fine with that but the competition is really lobbying against this. They want to keep their unfair advantage.

    What really bothers me, there are many on the Internet writing anti-GM and don’t have a clue what went on in decades past and only know that GM stole their money. If the government had not helped, even as bad as it is now, we probably be worst now then the Great Depression.

    Buy American! GM and Ford now make world class vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      — “[Toyota] did not have to pay a single retiree…for they had none (over 1million for GM)”

      Amazing! Considering Toyota was founded in 1937. Either Toyota workers are all 100 year old now, or they work till death, or they simply quit when they were still young. They just don’t retire!

      • 0 avatar

        The American workers who got jobs working for Toyota in the US were all new hires. In case you don’t know, it takes about 30 years before Toyota pays a pension, therefore like I said, Toyota did not have to pay any pension because all workers were new hires and GM had over 1 million retirees at the time.

  • avatar
    Mike Kelley

    Then there’s this:

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @Mike Kelley- It is rather surprising that GM stock is not doing better. The company has posted profit in excess of $5Billion in the first half of the year. The whole auto sector is down, with Ford down even more than GM. Go figure!

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