Top 3 Automakers 2011: Bloomberg, Please Report To Remedial Math Class

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
top 3 automakers 2011 bloomberg please report to remedial math class

There are days when I wish industry analysts and auto industry journalists should be required to carry maltreatment insurance. This is one of those days. Bloomberg reports that “Volkswagen AG will probably become the world’s biggest carmaker this year, vaulting past Toyota Motor and General Motors on gains in emerging markets.” Pure and unadulterated nonsense.

Bloomberg bases this daring prediction “on the average of three analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.” The analysts and their detailed predictions remain unmentioned – which is probably better that way. The analysts see Volkswagen’s sales “rise 13 percent to 8.1 million vehicles this year. GM sales will gain about 8 percent to 7.55 million, while Toyota will drop 9 percent to 7.27 million.”

Excuse me? The totals are waaaaaaaay off.

The percentages jibe halfways. We predicted similar ones last August. Let’s assume, they are right. It doesn’t take a genius to get them straight. Volkswagen just reported 13.9 percent plus for the first 9 months. GM will announce its quarterly results in November, but 8 percent sound about right. Toyota had budgeted a shortfall of 6 percent for 2011, but just for the sake of argument, let’s assume the analysts are right with 9 percent less. Now for the hard part: Let’s do the math.

I don’t know what kind of a spreadsheet Bloomberg is using, but if you apply the predicted percentages to last year’s official numbers ( as supplied by OICA), then GM can hardly gain 8 percent and end up at 7.55 million if they sold 8.48 million last year.

A rise of 13 percent won’t bring Volkswagen to 8.1 million, but to 8.29 million, a little bit less than a million behind the world’s largest carmaker, GM.

And just for the record, 9 percent down from 8.56 million won’t land Toyota at 7.27 million, but at 7.79 million. Not that it matters ranking-wise.


Unless the sky falls (and it would have to fall quickly), the year will end as we predicted it back in June: GM Volkswagen Toyota #3. It also should end with Bloomberg in remedial math class.

The numerical nonsense has already been picked-up widely by likewise mathematically challenged news outlets. One of them is – to our great disappointment – the Financial Times, which usually has its act together.

Instead of rectifying the story, the FT added to the confusion by predicting combined Renault and Nissan sales numbers of 6.8 million. Wrong. Renault and Nissan never consolidated numbers in the past, and probably won’t consolidate in the future either. A usually well informed source told us that the consolidated number would be 8.15 million – if the Alliance would consolidate. This includes results from the joint venture with AutoVAZ, which must be taken in consideration when joint venture results of GM, Volkswagen, and Toyota are counted. This would put the Nissan/Renault Alliance in the #3 slot, but again, it won’t, because they don’t want to be counted as one.

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  • Danddd Chicago at night is crazy traveling in and out from the 'burbs. Taking the Ike back home around midnight and you'll see racers swerving by at 100mph plus. Dangerous enough we rarely go down there anymore. I plan my city trips between 9:30AM and back out by 1PM to miss the worst traffic.
  • SCE to AUX Good summary, Matt.I like EVs, but not bans, subsidies, or carbon credits. Let them find their own level.PM Sunak has done a good thing, but I'm surprised at how sensibly early he made the call. Hopefully they'll ban the ban altogether.
  • SCE to AUX "Having spoken to plenty of suppliers over the years, many have told me they tried to adapt to EV production only to be confronted with inconsistent orders."Lofty sales predictions followed by reality.I once worked (very briefly) for a key supplier to Segway, back when "Ginger" was going to change the world. Many suppliers like us tooled up to support sales in the millions, only to sell thousands - and then went bankrupt.
  • SCE to AUX "all-electric vehicles, resulting in a scenario where automakers need fewer traditional suppliers"Is that really true? Fewer traditional suppliers, but they'll be replaced with other suppliers. You won't have the myriad of parts for an internal combustion engine and its accessories (exhaust, sensors), but you still have gear reducers (sometimes two or three), electric motors with lots of internal components, motor mounts, cooling systems, and switchgear.Battery packs aren't so simple, either, and the fire recalls show that quality control is paramount.The rest of the vehicle is pretty much the same - suspension, brakes, body, etc.
  • Theflyersfan As crazy as the NE/Mid-Atlantic I-95 corridor drivers can be, for the most part they pay attention and there aren't too many stupid games. I think at times it's just too crowded for that stuff. I've lived all over the US and the worst drivers are in parts of the Midwest. As I've mentioned before, Ohio drivers have ZERO lane discipline when it comes to cruising, merging, and exiting. And I've just seen it in this area (Louisville) where many drivers have literally no idea how to merge. I've never seen an area where drivers have no problems merging onto an interstate at 30 mph right in front of you. There are some gruesome wrecks at these merge points because it looks like drivers are just too timid to merge and speed up correctly. And the weaving and merging at cloverleaf exits (which in this day and age need to all go away) borders on comical in that no one has a bloody clue of let car merge in, you merge right to exit, and then someone repeats behind you. That way traffic moves. Not a chance here.And for all of the ragging LA drivers get, I found them just fine. It's actually kind of funny watching them rearrange themselves like after a NASCAR caution flag once traffic eases up and they line up, speed up to 80 mph for a few miles, only to come to a dead halt again. I think they are just so used to the mess of freeways and drivers that it's kind of a "we'll get there when we get there..." kind of attitude.