Volkswagen Can Be World's Largest Automaker In 2013 - As Unlikely As It May Be. GM In Danger Of Dropping To Third

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
volkswagen can be world s largest automaker in 2013 as unlikely as it may be gm in

As usual at this time of the month, Toyota released full month sales and production figures for the preceding month, and as usual in January, the numbers are for the full calendar year. Readers of TTAC will not be surprised by the data, a look forward into 2013 however can get quite exciting. Or unnerving. The podium of the World’s Largest Automakers promises to be in disarray in 2013.

World’s Largest AutomakersFull Year 2012 Data12M ’1212M ’11YoYToyota9,909,4407,858,09126.1%GM9,288,2779,023,5022.9%Volkswagen9,070,0008,160,00011.2%Source: Company data.Toyota: Production. GM: Sales. VW: Deliveries.

With Volkswagen having announced its data two weeks ago, the only number that is missing is GM’s global production number. We are using published sales until we have the number. We expect it with the annual results. It will not change the ranking. Toyota ended the year 2012 with a worldwide production of 9,909,440 units, up 26.1 percent, and with sales of 9,748,000 units, up 22.8 percent. No surprise at all, it is pretty much what Toyotas figured a month ago.

In case you’re dwelling under a rock: The number we are tracking at TTAC is production, not sales. Not because we like production better. OICA, the world umbrella organization of automakers, uses production for its list of largest automakers, and so do we. “Sales” is a very elastic and tortured term anyway. It can mean real registrations, make-to-order bookings, sales to dealers, sales to wholesale, CKD sales, sales to sales organizations. Ever so precise Volkswagen uses “Auslieferungen”, or deliveries. At VW, a car is produced when it passes Zählpunkt 8 (count point eight), but it is delivered when it is shipped. More than you ever wanted to know.

Instead of dwelling on arcana, let’s look forward. Unlike 2012, which ( at least in our view) was decided when it barely had begun, 2013 promises to be interesting right to the end. It also is the first year where Volkswagen has a halfway realistic chance of fulfilling its dream of world domination. Let’s have a look.

Toyota is on record that it plans to catch its breath in 2013, after its incredible comeback from the shock of 2011, which was a disaster year of biblical proportions. After earthquakes, tsunamis and floods, it’s only a rain of frogs that is missing. Wait, GM has a patent on those. Toyota wants to add maybe two percent to its sales and plans for flat production numbers. Let’s call it 10 million.

If Volkswagen maintains its 2012 growth rate of 11.2 percent, then it could pass the 10 million mark by a hair, or 80,000 units. Unlikely, but possible.

Likewise, if GM maintains its 2.9 percent growth rate, it would reach 9.6 million and land in place three.

All of these are big ifs. We will know a little more in a few months.

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6 of 28 comments
  • Pch101 Pch101 on Jan 28, 2013

    GM could remain in the top spot if it maintained the badge engineering, multiple-brand cannibalization "strategy" that it had prior to the bankruptcy. Fortunately, it has largely stopped doing that. Perhaps being "number one" isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Being in what amounts to a three-way tie isn't a bad thing, just so long as it's profitable.

    • See 3 previous
    • Pch101 Pch101 on Jan 29, 2013

      @PrincipalDan "Aren’t we mistaking correlation for causation now?" No. The old GM would have built more cars, then used incentives and fleet sales in order to move them.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Feb 10, 2013

    I do not know if anyone gets the big picture. May be it is another generalization but GM was #1 in the world because US was industrial powerhouse after WW2. But today US is mostly service economy, financial and other services (see IBM) and Japan and Germany are manufacturing, export oriented superpowers. We have to be proud to be #3 after countries like Germany and Japan. In future US may go down to #4 if China does not slow down or collapses.

  • Sgeffe Why on Earth can’t you just get the torque specs and do it yourself if you’re so-inclined?!
  • Sgeffe As was stated in another comment, the FAA nominee went down in flames. But the NTSB chairwoman certainly didn’t, and she’s certainly not qualified either!Lots of this kind of stuff going on both sides of the aisle—Ben Carson would have arguably made a better Surgeon General than HUD Secretary under Trump, for example.
  • Art Vandelay Interesting, the Polestar 2 I had as a rental utilized Android Automotive which is what GM said it is going to exclusively, yet it still offers Apple CarPlay according to this. Wonder if GM will do the same.
  • Stuart de Baker EVs just aren't ready for prime time for those with a single car and who take road trips. Being able to charge as soon as you arrive at a charging station, and even the chargers working on your car is a crapshoot. In the former case, you could have to wait for nearly an hour while someone else is charging.I also don't find EVs particularly fun to drive (I've driven a Tesla Model S and an Ionic 5.) I LOVE driving my '08 Civic (stick). I love the handling, the feel and responsiveness of the engine, the precise steering (the Michelin Pilot Ultra Sport tires help, but even with the snows on, the car is a joy). I have 152k on the clock, and hopefully another 25 years or so of driving (I was born early in the Eisenhower Administration and I have exceptionally healthy habits), and I'm going to try to keep the Civic for the duration.My Civic causes a less global warming emissions than some of these humongous battery operated trucks.
  • FreedMike They should throw in a Lordstown pickup with every purchase. Make it the “vapor twofer.”