By on January 17, 2013

At the sidelines of the Detroit Motor Show, GM conceded what we had said all along: Toyota is the world’s largest Automaker again, with GM in #2, and – surprise – Volkswagen right behind GM.

After Toyota had announced, on a preliminary basis,  that they had produced 9.92 million units in 2012, and sold 9.7 million, Volkswagen announced on Monday global deliveries of 9.1 million for the year.  We expected  GM to announce, as usual, when they surrender the report for their last quarter.

Reporters that had arrived in division-strength in Detroit bugged GM until it released sales of 9.29 million to the Associated Press.

For us, this is an anticlimactic event, we had predicted this outcome for most of the year, and we declared winner and podium positions last month.  As remarked here  ad nauseam, the number we want is production, not sales. We will update the numbers once we have them end of the month from Toyota and some time in February from GM.  Not that this would change the ranking.

When Toyota became #1 in 2008, they warned internally not to celebrate this, because it was won due to the weakness of an opponent, not because of one’s own strength. Now, the #1 slot was won in a growing market, and through heroic efforts.,

Two items are remarkable about last year: The speed with which Toyota dug itself out of the hole caused by earthquake, tsunami, and Thai flood. And how narrow the distance between #3 Volkswagen and #2 GM has grown. Separated by a comfortable margin for most of the year, in the end GM finished only  229,000 units ahead of Volkswagen. Volkswagen’s global growth in 2012 (11.2 percent) is much stronger than that of GM (2.9 percent). If they keep that up, GM will land in rank 3 this year.

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64 Comments on “World’s Largest Automaker: Dethroned GM Concedes, TTAC Was Right...”

  • avatar

    Has anyone ever seen RF and Bertel in the same place?

  • avatar

    Toyota is No. 1 alright. Honda right behind them in recalls.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Sad little sour grapes. So bitter. So withered.

      I’m not sure why this even bugs you, Norm, as title of the world’s largest automaker doesn’t necessarily indicate high quality or product appeal. I’d just be happy that GM is making some genuinely good vehicles now and leave it at that.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not at all a fan of how Toyota handled the Great Recall of 2009 (was it 2009? It seems like just yesterday), but to be fair, the more cars you sell, the larger a figure your recall will make.

      Didn’t Ford recall something like millions of Exploders/F-150s a while back? Not hard to do when you make a mistake on a product line you sell half a million of – Toyota had been selling 500,000+ Camrys per year until recently (and still does 400-450,000/year), it’d be kind’ve hard to make a mistake on ONE of those Camrys and not the other 499,999.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, way to go Detroit! Like refusing to recall when 100 people already died of exploding tires ….

      • 0 avatar

        @ WSN – Given the ignorance and FLAT OUT STUPIDITY involving the public, supposedly trained tire professionals and ambulance chasers, I would have waited too.

      • 0 avatar

        That seems legit. That was from user error — people driving an SUV like they would a sports coupe. The attempts to duplicate the scenario by various outlets seemed to confirm that it was user error.

  • avatar

    OK, I’ll nitpick: We’re getting the usual TTAC hyperbole in the headline for this article. Dethroned? Hardly. Toyota taking the top spot in 2008 was a dethroning, because GM had been the biggest for how many decades up to that point? Since 2008, there is no ‘throne’. Rather we’re now looking at a 3-way dogfight on the podium for the next few years. And nobody is obviously the ‘king’.

    Of course, this is TTAC: We’re talking GM, so if there’s a way to toss in that extra elbow . . . . . . .

  • avatar

    Good for Toyota, and good for V-Dub. UAW, are you seeing this? Hello? Oh, sorry, the UAW was out back smoking weed and getting drunk while this was reported.

  • avatar
    doctor olds


  • avatar

    Shame. All the GM hate. Shame! Shame! Bad! Naughty!

    Feel better?

    Personally, holding on to that number one spot is less important than focusing on product and building up a reputation that’s simply not there outside of the US. GM has the resources to make great, global cars… but after a decent restart, they don’t seem to be going much of anywhere.

    The new Trailblazer is nice, though.

    • 0 avatar

      Just for a change I’d like to express VW hate. I can’t believe they ended up #3. Sincerely hope they fall down to at least 23 or 33. I cannot stand their products and I cannot stand the manufacturer of overpriced junk they sell.

      • 0 avatar

        Totally agree, apparently having crap quality is the sure fire way to increase sales in today’s market…

      • 0 avatar

        Frankly, I’m baffled by all three. Like Socrates said, the older I get, the more I realized how little I know.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “apparently having crap quality is the sure fire way to increase sales in today’s market”

        Not just today’s market. It worked for GM for years.

        And “crap quality” seems to have little to do with it for VW. Their volume-selling cars are far more reliable today than a decade ago, so you’re going to have to explain how simultaneous increases in both reliability and sales fit in with your statement above.

      • 0 avatar


        While it’s not much more than an anecdote, my 2008 GTI has been virtually bulletproof through 55K+ miles, and I definitely don’t drive it like a granny. Only issues were replacing the IP under warranty because the trip fuel economy meter was not resetting itself, and I had to recharge the AC (on my dime). I’ll take that level of quality/reliability from a German car any day. In fact, I’m almost scared to trade it in for something else, as it has been my most reliable vehicle to date, but a 2nd kid on the way might force my hand.

  • avatar

    GM, want to sell more cars? Fix the seats in the Cruze.
    You’re welcome.

  • avatar
    Oren Weizman

    Once China crashes we’ll all be singing Gangnam style …

  • avatar

    It doesn’t matter if GM is #14; they’re “too big to fail.”

  • avatar

    Interesting only because the Japanese and European markets are shrinking or stagnant at best while the U.S. market has healthy growth.

    Wait till Fiat/Chrysler rockets up and becomes one of the new Big Three (I predict it will replace GM).

  • avatar

    I honestly don’t know why any of this matters. Before TTAC started continually bloviating about it, I never even considered the rank order of auto sales by company.

  • avatar

    “Dethroned GM Concedes That TTAC Was Right”

    OK, where’s the letter or email from GM conceding TTAC was right? Hmm?

    Look, Bertel, I’m 65 years old, seen it all, and that is a ridiculous headline. No concessions are ever involved if one side never knew it was in a contest – with a third party, no less. Nor do I remember GM ever saying it was going to be #1 in 2012.

    I love your Toyota articles, your recent backseat FR-S test was a blast.

    Your headlines however, suck the big one. The recent Corvette article, somehow morphed into a GM bash from pre-bankruptcy days (and at least showed what a superior wordsmith Farago was), but was otherwise not to any point I could see.

    I have never owned a GM car, probably never will, not interesting enough for me as a mechanical engineer, so I could care less about them until they wake up. But I have to agree, the GM bashing on this site is contrived at best. It serves no useful purpose whatsoever that I can imagine, other than page hits.

    And this one is not even true. Not a good sign.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 but it isn`t just the GM aspects. The snark comes out most when it is a GM/Toyota piece and comparing the two. The adulation of Toyota’s supreme efforts (!) that comes through in many of those articles including this one :

      Bertel does make fair comments on all auto manufacturers except Toyota it seems. I do not recall any articles by him decrying Toyota in the past. If there are any articles like that please provide a link. We get laudatory comments about the FRS, or their ability to be #1 (again) and the size of the gap, or their steadfast ways of management. Never anything about how they missed the market with the Tundra (and remember missing targets was terrible for the Volt), or their continuing recalls (a conspiracy of course).

    • 0 avatar

      I completely agree…but at the same time, it’s almost entertaining to see what kind of cockamamie criteria the TTAC crew will come up with when judging efforts by GM. I am a big GM fan, but over the past few days, it’s started to become as interesting as the TopGear (UK) Morris Marina gag…

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      The headlines are for page hits.

      Writing that Toyota’s effort was ‘heroic’ is just embarrassing.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    The snark in the headline of course, is due to the huge, HUGE problem the new Vette is going to cause the entire European sports car industry. Here, you have a base Vette for $50,000 + or – that dramatically will most likely equal C6 Z06 performance, has shed weight (although TTAC hypocritically bloviates about the increased weight of modern cars)while achieving more power out of a smaller engine.

    This car, even in base form, is obviously going to humiliate a lot of foreign “supercars,” on or off the track. Hence the present rash of GM bashing editorials.

    We need some headlines referring to gold chains and big-haired girlfriends.

    • 0 avatar

      What’s wrong with gold chains and big-haired girlfriends? I mean, if I’m Italian and live in Nashville, it’s all good! And in Nashville, unless you’re homeless – excuse me, Nashville has no homeless, only aspiring musicians – then domestic is still preferable to not domestic (but Nissan & Vdub get a pass, because they’re native to Tennessee).

      I once briefly lived in Gettysburg, PA. The townies there are seriously redneckish, proving that you can lose the battle but still win the war. I cannot help but sense the same irony at the thought that Toyota, VW and Fiat may soon be the three largest car-sellers in the world. No moral valuations; just an inward smirk. I wonder if the same inward smirk is what motivates some of Bertel’s page-hits at all costs headlines.

  • avatar

    Bertel, this probably won’t effect the overall results, but you are aware that the DMV in Palm Beach County, FL, is still counting car sales, aren’t you?

  • avatar

    crunch, crunch, crunch…

    I can always count on Bertel to break out the good popcorn

    crunch, crunch, crunch…

  • avatar

    On another note the younger Millennial generation has stated that they A: Could care a less about cars B: Could care a less about driving or owning a car C: Could care a less about performance D: Have odd/different tastes in styling. Well by golly this could explain a lot in the statement above-aka people are only interested in going from point A to B and not the car it’self. The “Car Guy” is a dying breed it would seem.

    • 0 avatar

      This is just my simple opinion based on observations, but here goes: I think the crack down on drinking and driving (and I am for more rigid enforcement) plays into this. I’m 56. When I was growing up (and as a young adult) the car played a major role in people’s social life and identity. You’d pick up a 6-pack and gather a few friends to cruise and bar hop. Younger people can’t really do that today. What good is a fancy vehicle if it’s parked in the garage while you take a cab to the bar or ride with a designated driver? Younger people seem to want to live in a vibrant urban environment with restaurants, bars and entertainment venues within walking distance. They impress with their brand of phone.

    • 0 avatar

      Not to be a dick, but I think what you meant to say is they couldn’t care less.

      As in there is no measurable amount that could be less than what they care.

      • 0 avatar

        YES!! People say that wrong MOST of the time. I never understood it the way doug-g said.

        Also, it sounds to me like kids today need to drink less. I’d rather be out cruising than bar hopping. *shrug*

  • avatar

    Instead of total cars sold, shouldn’t they look at total revenue? I would assume GM would come on top, seeing they sell bigger and more expensive cars.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s quite a different metric, and then you get into corporate structures and non-automotive products as well. (Toyota and VW also make heavy trucks and buses, which have very high transaction prices, and VW has substantial luxury revenues from Bentley and Lamborghini.

      For the sake of information, the three companies reported revenues of about $210B (Toyota), $150B (GM) and $200B (VW) for their most recent fiscal years. Joint ventures are typically not included in the revenue totals.

  • avatar

    And if GM was number one, they would be lambasted by TTAC for chasing sales number rather than profits.

    I’m just waiting for the Ford love fest over the bland Fusion Energy…than has a shorter range than a 5,000 pound SUV with 420 torques and an over 7k tow rating.

  • avatar

    Well, compared to the disdain for GM management you’ll find at Peter DeLorenzo’s site, TTAC is downright even-handed. Peter unfailingly praises the GM “true believers” but slams the bean counters, management fiefdoms and especially “Lt. Dan” Ackerson, though he stopped calling him “Lt. Dan” after the Navy complained. TTAC may or may not like GM management, but the car reviews are fair, and the bean counter effect is noted. Is DeLorenzo biased? No. Is TTAC biased? No. Sometimes they actually ARE blithering idiots running the company down, and it’s not biased to note it.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      DeLorenzo pretty much just bashes Ackerson and some PR exec (I think its the same one Bertel named)and very few others.

      I enjoy reading his site (and TTAC as well)

      But, don’t put DeLorenzo’s site at the level of TTAC as far as the approach. He also probably gets 1/1000th of the traffic and ads or less.

    • 0 avatar

      Yea,DeLorenzo really has a thing against Akerson and I find his ‘Rants’ entertaining and informative with an insiders(living and working in Detroit) prospective.
      Possibly Akerson is somewhat to blame for the lack of a ‘class leading’ product(If you exclude the new Vette)but I dont have any love for VW products and Toyotas are still,after all the praise from some,boring as hell for the even sorta enthusiast.Honda,other than the image I saw today,is soooooo far behind the Korean`s that they may end up on a ‘death watch’ someday.
      And finally….This site goes nuts and looses its objectivity the minute ‘Farago’ is mentioned.
      I thought the editors had made it clear that ‘they’ were starting with a ‘clean slate’!!

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    GM derangement syndrome.

  • avatar

    I am tired of all this … I don’t really care which maker is number one, two or three. I know that big egos like Piech care about such nonsense, but I rather stick with BMW opinion on this one:

    Which one whould you rather be: The most profitable or the biggest carmaker?

    Size really means nothing, except that your ship is too big to make a quick turnaround (for examples just look at Chrysler and GMs performance after the crisis).

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with you wholly. I have said several times in the past that its profit not revenue or number of sales that make a company viable.

    • 0 avatar

      The profit numbers will be coming out in the next few months as the manufacturers release their annual results. Maybe we can hope for TTAC coverage of that metric as well?

    • 0 avatar

      Arguing “size doesn’t matter” in a car guy website is like arguing that fuel efficiency is more important that horsepower. It may have the benefit of being true, but I’m not going to be the first grease monkey to stand up among my frients and tell them that putting the supercharger on the Chevelle is a bad idea.

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