Toyota marches steadily towards World’s Largest Automaker 2019 while Renault is on vacation

With seven months in the can, steady-as-we-go Toyota looks more and more like the winner of this year’s race for World’s Largest Automaker. Of the three contestants (allegedly not) vying for the top spot, Toyota is the only global car group looking at growth in output. The Japanese increased YTD production by 4.1 percent, while the German competition at Volkswagen is looking at a decrease of 2.7 percent in deliveries, both compared to January through July 2018. Toyota now is 135,000 units ahead of Volkswagen, and is increasing its lead.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is missing from the scoreboard, not because the Alliance has finally disintegrated. Renault is closed for summer vacation, no numbers while everybody is at the beach. Nissan meanwhile is doing its level best to obfuscate their miserable data by reporting for the April through July period only. A month ago, they still published YTD data in Yokohama. Anyway, it looks like Nissan is down around 10% Jan-Jul 2019.

And now the necessary caveat:

The race for World’s Largest Automaker is not decided by sales, but by production, and 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 and sales. Volkswagen reports “deliveries” to wholesale – which can be cars dumped on dealer lots, or actual sales to customers. The Alliance numbers used to be a blend of production data reported by Nissan and Mitsubishi, and deliveries reported by Renault. As of September 2018, Renault started to report sales only, forcing us to use those. 

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