World’s Largest Automakers: Toyota back on top

It looked so rosy

It looked so rosy

A month ago, we did not join the crowd that prematurely crowned Volkswagen king of all automakers. A week later, we pronounced that VW’s triumph may be fleeting. And fleeting it is: As of today, Volkswagen finds itself back in the familiar number 2 position, with Toyota resuming the lead.

World’s Largest Automakers
7 Month 2014
Jan-Jul 2015 Jan-Jul 2014 YoY 2015 proj.
Toyota 5,877,050 6,063,347 -3.1% 10,075,000
Volkswagen 5,830,000 5,890,000 -1.0% 9,994,000
GM 5,671,167 5,742,333 -1.2% 9,722,000
Source: Company data. GM, VW: Deliveries. Toyota: Production.
Blue: Estimate

Toyota announced today that from January to July, it produced 5.87 million units globally. A few days ago, Volkswagen revealed that in the same period, it delivered 5.83 million units worldwide. Volkswagen is reeling from the weakness of the Brazilian, Russian and Chinese markets. VW’s exposure to China is monstrous, while Toyota’s weakness in China suddenly morphs into strength.

Nevertheless, the distance between the two juggernauts remains minuscule. Separated by a little more than 40,000 units, anything can happen through the end of the year, and we continue to recommend waiting until the game is finished before winners are announced. Pressure on Volkswagen to declare a victory, however flimsy it may be, remains high. Toyota on the other hand remains blasé about being number one or number two, while it happily enjoys its record profits.

GM sits solidly in the #3 slot. As the company announces global numbers only quarterly, its July data are estimated.

Note: tracks production, not sales, because this is how the world automaker umbrella organization OICA ranks automakers.

Toyota reports both sales and production, we take production. Volkswagen reports “deliveries” to wholesale – which is, at least for this exercise, close enough to production. GM did the same, but begun reporting retail sales for the Chinese market.