Volkswagen is World’s Largest Automaker 2020, Toyota leads in sales


With a maximum effort in the last month of the year, Volkswagen Group edged past Toyota Group to secure the title of World’s Largest Automaker 2020. Toyota came in 92,000 units behind. Volkswagen’s output was down 15% year-on-year, Toyota Group produced 14% fewer automobiles than 2019, both reflecting the COVID-hit global total industry volume, which was down 14.4%. If we would, see below, rank automakers by sales, and not by production, Toyota, having sold 9,528,438 units, would be the world’s largest.

3rd-ranked Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi came in a whopping 1.8 million behind Toyota. The massive 26% hit the Alliance took can’t be explained-away with the virus. Nissan was sicklish before the palace coup, post Ghosn all three Alliance member took to the ICU. Renault closed out the year 21% in the reds, Nissan was down 27%, and Mitsubishi Motors came in a gruesome 38% lower than the year before.

A decade ago, the carmageddon year 2009 ended with global auto production down 12.4%, the industry was in shock, two thirds of Detroit went bankrupt, and the remaining third barely hung on by selling everything that wasn’t bolted down, and by mortgaging the rest, including the company logo. Massive bailouts were launched. Perfectly good cars were scrapped to make up for tanking demand. This time, it seems different.

This time around, industry took a bigger hit than during carmageddon, but you wouldn’t notice it. One of the world’s smallest automakers is valued higher than all the world’s largest automakers, taken together.

At the Daily Kanban, the new year will bring a little change.

Up until now, Daily Kanban attempted to rank automakers by production, and not by sales, because this was how the global automaker umbrella association OICA has done it. OICA seems to have thrown-in the towel, and you no longer will find any automaker rankings on the previously authoritative OICA website, neither by production, nor by sales.

With the exception of Japanese OEMs, which dutifully report both production and sales each month, OEMs in the rest of the world have become stingy with their data, reporting – if they report at all – “deliveries,” which is a rather elastic term. Deliveries can be sales to end users, or cars dumped on dealer lots, or cars “delivered” to sales organizations, or combinations thereof. Therefore, our data reflected production as reported by Japanese OEMS Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi, “deliveries” reported by Volkswagen, and “sales” reported by Renault.

Due to the lack of data, the Daily Kanban will, beginning with the January 2021 period, stop tracking production, and switch to tracking (alleged) sales/deliveries.

We will continue to remind you that these data are prone to manipulation, as sundry scandals in the past have shown.

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