By on December 21, 2012

We have been saying it since May, but it took Bloomberg  (along with the rest of the copypasting media) until a few days ago to realize that GM’s reign as the World’s Largest Automaker is coming to an end. GM regained the title in 2011 from a tsunami-ravaged Toyota. Toyota has been bouncing back strongly ever since. Toyota’s worldwide production is up 30 percent for the year, while GM was seen treading water when they last published global numbers in October.

November Production and Full Year Forecast
11M ’12 11M ’11 YoY Proj ’12
Toyota 9,254,042 7,100,554 30.3% 10,095,000
GM 8,621,556 8,492,000 1.5% 9,405,000
Volkswagen 8,290,000 6,800,000 21.9% 9,044,000
Black: Company data. Blue: Projection, based on last available
Toyota, GM: Production. VW: Deliveries. Forecast by TTAC

Toyota’s worldwide production, including Daihatsu and Hino stood at 9.25 million by end of November, Toyota said today. Volkswagen, which released global data earlier in the month, is a million behind, churning out 8.29 million units globally from January through November.

GM sits somewhere in-between, where exactly will remain a mystery until GM releases its annual report for 2012, some time in February. Why a world-class carmaker cannot keep track of its worldwide activities on a monthly basis is hard to understand. Until GM releases numbers, we need to interpolate from its September data. In the past, the interpolation was reasonably accurate, if a little optimistic.

Unless the Mayans are right, Toyota should close out the year with around (but probably not quite) 10 million units made. Volkswagen is expected to report some 9 million units, and GM a few hundred thousand more. Unless Bloomberg has inside knowledge of a massive slowdown at GM, we don’t see how it is possible for Bloomberg to say that “the fight for second between Volkswagen and GM remains too close to call.”

Looking ahead to 2013, the company to watch is Volkswagen. The company has huge momentum which could carry it past GM as soon as the first half of 2013. In the world’s largest car market China, Volkswagen outsold GM in the third quarter, and is likely to do the same in the fourth.  Volkswagen is set to unseat GM in China in the coming year. Volkswagen  is relatively unscathed by the European contagion, GM on the other hand is down 12.7 percent in Europe January-November. Volkswagen is busy adding production capacity in China, and appears to profit from Japanese weaknesses in China.

To clear up any confusion, TTAC’s tracking of who is where in the race for World’s Largest Automaker tries to replicate as much as possible the methodology used by OICA. The umbrella organization of the world’s automakers publishes the annual list that actually determines who is the largest.

  • OICA uses production, not sales. “Sales” has turned into a very bendable term, especially on a global basis.
  • OICA uses production data as reported by automakers via their national association. Data released by manufacturers in their annual or quarterly reports usually come closest to the final OICA numbers, although there have been slight deviations in the past.
  • OICA captures data on a group basis, including all joint ventures. If certain alliances, such as Renault/Nissan, do not want to be counted jointly, OICA does not do it either, and nor should we.

We all know that GM has its rank only due to Wuling, but we can’t take Wuling off. If Volkswagen recognizes Porsche only as of August 2012, then one should not generously give Volkswagen all Porsche sales, as it repeatedly happened in the media. Reporters are often thrown off by Toyota, which likes to omit China from its production forecasts, only to include China when the production is reported.

With the exception of brash, but honest Volkswagen, manufacturers often play down the importance of the ranking. Well, officially, “the important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part,” a line popular with losers. Some will say that the ranking should be determined by transaction price, without joint ventures, on a brand level, and so forth. Good suggestions, write a letter to OICA.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

8 Comments on “TTAC Declares (Knock On Wood) Toyota World’s Largest Automaker 2012...”

  • avatar

    This is good News for Toyota, especially because how General Motors has treated Canada and our Workers in moving the Sports Car production away from Oshawa, Ontario. General Motors has a short memory when Canada and the Province of Ontario provided this Automaker with a lot of Money to prevent GM going into the “hole”,it just shows that large companies like GM could care less about anything especially there Workers!

    • 0 avatar

      I am afraid I don’t see any connectivity between Toyota’s world-wide sales position & GM’s decision to move Camaro production to Michigan.

      The GM move is being done, probably, because:

      1. UAW dual labor rates in the U.S., something the CAW doesn’t have
      2. The next Camaro (2014?)will be built on the same platform as the Cadillac CTS & ATS which are both built in Lansing, the Camaro’s new home – makes logical production sense.
      3. Possibly because of Michigan’s recent decision to become a right to work state

      As for Oshawa, GM has already announced the “fleet” Impala will continue to be built there through 2014, a car that was supposed to meet its demise in March of 2013. If anything, that’s increased total sales for GM, not less.

    • 0 avatar

      Michigan workers know the plural possessive is spelled “their”.

      • 0 avatar


        I’m not sure at this point and am speculating. I have been in the rail businesss for many years, which is a highly unionized industry, and I have watched rail companies move organized administrative staff from non right-to-work states to right-to-work states primarily to avoid a shutdown in the event of a strike. If the union calls one, there is no obligation on the part of the non-union members to “hit the brick” or repercussions from what is known as “secondary strikes” which is common in rail and airline unions like TCU.

        Also, if GM were to hire new employees who don’t want to join the UAW, there would be greater flexibility in job descriptions and work rules that would allow new employees to take on a broader scope of work that was not limited by a rigid union job descriptions, another significant motivator in the rail example listed above.

        I guess it is new territory because we have auto plants in the U.S. that are organized and plants (or transplants) that are not organized but not plants where there are line workers who are both so we’ll have to see what happens. The R-T-W issue in Michigan is so new, it probably didn’t play into GM’s thought process unless they were pretty certain the vote was going to turnout the way it did well in advance of Michigan’s Legislature’s vote.

  • avatar

    It is a new dynamic indeed. it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Bad news for Ontario though in that it’s one more thing that we don’t have as an advantage. Well if Toyota continues to be number one maybe that’s where the future of Ontario’s auto industry is although the other 2 Detroit manufacturers seem to be doing well. If Ford and Chrysler see advantages in Michigan’s RTW status also, we’re screwed!

  • avatar

    Indiana became RTW state in February and world did not come to end and workers did not become slaves. Just opposite – more companies are interested creating jobs in Indiana. For Michigan RTW is a matter of survival to be able to compete against more advanced states in the south.

    For GM to be #3 was unthinkable 20 years but GM has to be happy to be still in business in 21 century (and UAW too). For Germany and Japan beating GM (and US) is sweet revenge for humiliating defeat in WWII. During WWII US was the most industrialized nation in the world outproducing any other country. Now it is deindustrialized informational and consumer society. But I would not be too optimistic if I were Japan or Germany – nature of warfare also changed so Germany and Japan may loose again since they are still behind in latest trends in technology and have rapidly aging population.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • EBFlex: “ Assuming that’s true, if it were cheaper, they’d be losing even more.” Wow. What a mind we have here folks....
  • teddyc73: Time to see the optometrist.
  • teddyc73: Looks lined up to me. Wow, if you screen name doesn’t scream “Hyundai fanboy”. To funny.
  • stuki: There will never be any shortage of Elons hyping, and possible even believing in, the latest iteration of...
  • jalop1991: “…but it appeals to me as a nerd engineer.” Leave it in your lab. If the end user has...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber