Over the last couple of years, General Motors, Volkswagen, and Toyota have vied for the title of World’s Largest Automaker.
Last year, VW took the title by selling more cars globally than any other automaker and proudly wore the crown as the largest carmaker on the planet.
For the first half of this year, Nissan has quietly snuck up and overthrown the reigning king. Did anyone see this coming?
It’s only halftime, and a lot can change in the second half of the year, but Nissan’s sales topped 5.2 million over the first 6 months of 2017, while VW and Toyota sold about 5.1 million each.
How did this happen? Remember that Nissan Motor Corporation is now an alliance between Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi. It’s their combined sales that pushed Nissan to the top.
Of course, people at the Alliance were quick to allege that the title means absolutely nothing. An hour before the Alliance sent out its numbers yesterday, Nissan’s chief of investor relations, Joji Tagawa, claimed in Yokohama that he doesn’t “really care whether we are number one, number two, or number three. That’s not an important performance indicator. How can we leverage size is important.” A little later, his boss Carlos Ghosn promised to “continue to leverage our significant economies of scale and global market presence to deliver valuable synergies for our member companies this year, while maintaining a strong technology lineup and offering customers breakthrough electric models.”
That’s a contradiction to VW’s old plans to blatantly become the world’s best and biggest. The company achieved its mission (at least of becoming the biggest) well ahead of its 2018 goal, but hasn’t managed to hold onto the title.
Sales numbers are a somewhat unreliable measurement, because automakers tend to measure them differently. Some measure sales to consumers, while others count all units sent to dealerships. Each can be manipulated to put an automaker over the top, so these rankings are to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.
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