World’s Largest Automakers September 2020: Volkswagen and Toyota getting better, Alliance not so much. COVID sales-shock much worse than carmageddon

World’s largest automakers slowly recuperate from a shock worse than the 2009 carmageddon, but the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance still requires serious medical attention.

All three managed to shave a few percentage points from their deficit vs. the same period in the prior year, the Alliance however is coming around much slower than is peers.

The distance between Volkswagen and Toyota has shrunk to some 90,000 units, down from roughly 130,000 in August. With three more months to go, anything can happen.

What is clear, and perilously overlooked, is that the auto industry is going through a shock much more severe than during the 2009 carmageddon. By the end of 2009, world’s automobile production was down 12.4%.  Currently, total global 2020 YTD production is down around 20%, and it won’t get drastically better in the remaining quarter. If they remain on their current trajectories, both Volkswagen and Toyota might end the year down around 20%, while the Alliance could have lost about a third of its prior-year output.

And now the necessary caveats:

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 are prone to ‘sales reporting abuses,” as recent scandals in the U.S., along with rampant “self-registrations” in the EU have shown. OICA doesn’t rank automakers by sales for a reason, and if you ask for sales data, you’ll hear a terse “the OICA secretariat does not have any further data.”

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. Volkswagen also makes its numbers very hard to find. Our 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. Nissan makes matters worse by insisting on reporting its data on a fiscal year (April through Mach) basis only. Like so many things at the Alliance, its data are a mess.




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