We have warned repeatedly not to jump to conclusions, and not to crown GM the world’s second-largest automaker (behind Toyota), based on 2013 sales, and that “whoever tells you that GM is second and VW third should apply for immediate amateur status.” We still have a few contacts in Wolfsburg, and we prepared you for a surprise. The surprise (not for us) came today. Reuters reports that “Germany’s Volkswagen narrowly beat General Motors Co. in the global auto sales race last year, finishing as runner-up behind sales champion Toyota Motor Corp.”
According to the report, Volkswagen’s group deliveries were 9.73 million units in 2013, 20,000 more than the 9.71 million GM reported as delivered last year. Previously, Volkswagen had only announced that it “delivered over 9.7 million vehicles to customers last year,” and Daily Kanban readers were told to prepare for the effects of the rounding error.
In its “Strategie 2018,” Volkswagen had made it a goal to become the world’s largest automaker by 2018. With Toyota taking a breather this year and planning only for marginal growth, the race for World’s Largest Automaker is wide open this year. Volkswagen has a solid chance to make its target, if not this year, then next.
Not all is lost for GM though. OICA, the global automaker umbrella organization that keeps track of these things, ranks its members by production, not by sales. Toyota produced 10.117 million units this year, and it could report a few more to OICA.
Volkswagen and GM have yet to announce global production numbers for 2013. With differences that small, we may have to wait for OICA’s 2013 World Ranking of Manufacturers to decide who’s on second.
Today’s news are likely to cause depressions in Detroit. GM lost the top rank in the dark year of 2008 to Toyota. GM regained the title in 2011 from a tsunami-ravaged Toyota, and you could hear champagne corks pop all over Detroit. In 2012, GM again fell back to rank two. Falling to third while trying to regain the top spot would be a major embarrassment for GM.