By on May 28, 2012

Japanese carmakers published worldwide sales and production numbers for April and the first four months of the year today. As expected, they look pretty wild, with triple digit percentage gains. Hidden in the numbers: Toyota stands good chances to regain the title World’s Largest Carmaker, which it lost last year.

For April, Toyota reported worldwide production gains of 129 percent, Nissan is up 49 percent,  Honda a whopping 154 percent. These numbers compare with a post-tsunami April. They will remain wild for months to come, as we compare with a truly disastrous year.

Global Production 4 Months 2012

4M ’12 4M ’11 YoY Proj ’12
Toyota 3,498,731 2,342,578 49.4% 10,496,000
GM * 3,232,000 3,102,667 4.2% 9,696,000
Volkswagen 2,890,000 2,660,000 8.6% 8,670,000
* GM estimate based on Q1, 4 month data unavailable

What is more interesting is that Toyota solidified its lead in the race for the world’s largest carmaker of 2012. Toyota lost this title last year. The title was already lost in the first quarter of 2011, and the loss became bigger and more painful as one disaster followed the other. Finally, Toyota finished third behind GM and Volkswagen.

Toyota regained the lead early in the year, and kept building on that lead in April. Four months into the year, Toyota produced 600,000 units more than number three Volkswagen, and most likely 250,000 units more than second placed GM. GM did not make global production data available for April, we are using a straight line estimate from Q1 2012. The reality most likely is not as rosy as this straight line projection. Note that we are using production numbers, because production numbers will be used to declare the winner when the year is over.

Looking forward, Volkswagen’s growth is likely to slow further as Europe’s number one carmaker is dragged down with the rest of the market. GM’s Opel will be affected badly in Europe. GM had zero growth in the U.S. in the first four months. Toyota does not have much to lose in the Old Country, while being on a tear in Japan and the U.S.

Nevertheless, the race is far from decided, at least as far as GM and Toyota are concerned. Toyota plants in Japan and the U.S. are redlining and most likely need to slow down a bit.

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12 Comments on “World’s Largest Carmaker 2012: Four Months Into The Year, Toyota Solidifies Lead Over GM and VW...”

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    I think what would be more helpful would be a breakdown of VW, GM and Toyota’s sales per region. Where are each company gaining or losing ground? The key metric will be China. Also South East Asia. I know that Toyota are traditionally strong there, but no doubt VW and GM (Especially GM) are eyeing that region up. Also, India will be another key metric. I know Suzuki rules the roost there with Tata and Hyundai second and third in command (not respectively). But I’ve read that the Indians love the Toyota Etios, so will that be the product which takes Toyota into the top three?

    As for who is number one? No-one should want the title. It’s a poisoned chalice…

    • 0 avatar

      From SEA: VW is non-existent here because they dont have factories in SEA. That, in turn, means that all their cars have to be imported and cost 2x as much as locally produced ones.

      Even if that were not the case, it would be pretty hard to break Toyotas stranglehold on the market. VW might be wise to concentrate on China instead.

  • avatar

    Since we asked this when GM was leading, it seems only fair to ask this when Toyota is leading… We measure rank by production numbers. Are sales following or is somebody stuffing the channels?

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota is winning…wait…the manufacturer can fluff up the numbers will?

      Would it be too arrogant to say, “Bin Laden is dead, GM is alive(x2)”?

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    How will China’s CASH FOR CLUNKERS program affect this race, if at all?

  • avatar

    It’s early in the year yet. The only stat that means anything is what the sales numbers will be like at the end of the year.

    But as for Toyota doing better this year, I’m all for it! It’s nice to see Toyota making a comeback after enduring some hellish years. They survived false accusations, bad mouthing by the US government, Acts of God, and a nuclear disaster.

    Another positive aspect is that Toyota is not owned by the US government, is not indebted to the US government and is not sucking on the US government teat. That’s a big deal with many people.

    Toyota did not receive bail out bucks from the US government and provides decent-paying jobs to Americans in America, building quality cars for Americans. What’s not to like? Everybody wins!

    To their credit I would also like to see Honda make a full-recovery. That would be a nice addition to their Honda Indy-engine win. Honda engines — still the ones to beat!

    What started with motorcycles and is now winning on the race track has got to be paying dividends in the bread&butter cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Surely the “The only stat that means anything” is the yearly profit figure since these are businesses and all three mentioned will make billions (as they should on such large volumes).

      Toyota did have some false accusations but it also had some legitimate recalls out of the 10 million plus they had 2 years ago – my Sienna had two of those and the Sienna was I believe pretty much the only Toyota not to have UIA issues.

      Toyota, like every other foreign manufacturer is “not owned by the US government, is not indebted to the US government and is not sucking on the US government teat.” So I am sure you applaud VW too.

      Anyway what is the big deal about being #1 in volume. When GM was, for decades, #1 people said, rightly, that it didn`t mean anything (especially in the decades they made crap cars) so why does it matter now?

    • 0 avatar

      Mr. highdesercar. Let’s do a reality check on your statements. “They survived false accusations, bad mouthing by the US government… Another positive aspect is that Toyota is not owned by the US government, is not indebted to the US government and is not sucking on the US government teat.
      The recalls were real, close to 14 million worldwide, not just in the USA. Second, all of Japan’s car makers are protected from foreign cars makers. Why is it that not one foreign car makers builds in Japan, not GM, Ford, Fiat, Audi, VW, MB, BMW, Peugeot, Renault, Citroen and others? How is it that Ford is building in Russia, China, and India, GM in China, Korea and Russia and Fiat in Russia, but somehow they have not figured out how to build in Japan? Your nonsense about not getting government money rings hallow when you see that the Japanese government prevents any competition in their home market. At one time, the Japanese government audited the taxes of foreign car buyers. Doubt my words? Read Detroit’s Collapse: the untold story, you will see just how untrue most of your words are. Another example: Kia sold a total of 3 cars in Japan in 2011, Hyundai 81, considering how well Kia/Hyundia are doing all over the world, how is it that they could only sell a total of 84 cars in Japan?

      • 0 avatar

        Challenger – Bertel had some good articles in the past about the red herring of Japan’s closed market. I was initially skeptical but his articles certainly indicate that “foreign” manufacturers don`t sell that well in Japan because the consumers don’t want them rather than the cars being kept out by the Government.
        The Japanese market isn`t worth the time or effort for most manufacturers because of demographics, the large domestic auto industry and the types of cars routinely sold.

    • 0 avatar

      Mr. Mike Why not read the article, Detroit’s Collapse: the untold story, then tell me what you think? I have read BS nonsense which ignores reality and facts. Here’s one for you, there are markets much smaller than the Japanese, yet auto builders produce in those countries. I was in Venezuela; GM has an assembly plant there. I notice you didn’t comment on my statement that the Japanese government at one time audited the taxes of foreign car buyers. Why not ask BS if this is a lie? The Koreas adopted this practice from the Japanese. The nonsense that Japanese don’t want foreign cars flies in the face of the kinds of cars they can buy, expensive Audi’s BMW, MB etc, what are not allowed in are the cars that compete against the bread and butter products of the home team. Ferrari sold 386, Hummer 293 Jaguar 1020, yet Kia/Hyundai sold 84, and Korea is about 140 away from Japan, not an ocean away. In 2008, the Japanese Yen was equal to about 7.4 Korean Won, now it is about 14.2 Won. This would mean that the cost of a Korean car would be almost ½ the price it was 4 years ago, yet only 84 cars were sold in Japan. Are you going to tell me the Koreans don’t know how to build cars targeting an oriental customer but somehow BMW, MB and Audi, Ferrari and other high end makers do? Note this same distortion of the car market exits in Korea. The number one selling car in Korea is not a Honda Civic, or Toyota Corolla, but a $107,000 MB E300 which sold 7,019 cars in 2011, point of reference Toyota sold 5,000, Honda 3,150, Subaru 660, but BMW 23,300. Why do you think that?

  • avatar

    Good. That means Toyoda will have more money to spend on enthusiast-oriented cars. It was hard to justify his new Supra when they were depleting their war chest. Hopefully profitability and volume will provide the cash to get it made. I just hope they can go the lightweight and sophisticated route, rather than building a heavy hybrid.

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