World’s Largest Automakers May 2018: VW extending its lead – slightly

The battle for World’s Largest Automaker 2018 turns more and more into a bitter fight between Volkswagen Group and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Five months into the year, VW managed to extend its lead ever so slightly, with only 45,000 units separating the Germans from the French-Japanese nipping at their heels.

Former ichi ban Toyota apparently has decided to sit back and relax. Toyota Group’s worldwide production basically is the same it was January to May 2017.

Year to date, Volkswagen shows an admirable 7.7% growth, proving once again that scandals do not affect sales unless the scandals affect buyers directly,

As for the Alliance, it again is held back by Nissan, who’s 5 month production is 3.6% below last year’s level. Best performer of the Alliance once more is Mitsubishi Motors, now a full 24% ahead of last year’s levels.

Looking at the current trajectories, hitting 11 million units by end of the year is a strong possibility for Volkswagen, and a somewhat weaker one for the Alliance.  Also worth to remember: One third of the world’s automobile production happens in the plants of the three groups on the chart above.

Note: This analysis attempts to track production, not sales, because this is how the world automaker umbrella organization OICA ranks automakers.

Due to the different methodologies of their measurement, “sales” numbers have proven to be unreliable, and prone to ‘sales reporting abuses,” as recent scandals in the U.S., along with rampant “self-registrations” in the EU have shown.

At the same time, data reported by automakers are becoming increasingly hard to compare.

Toyota reports production only. Volkswagen reports “deliveries” to wholesale – which is, at least for this exercise, close enough to production. The Alliance numbers are a blend of production data reported by Nissan and Mitsubishi, and deliveries reported by Renault.