World’s Largest Automakers Q1 2021: Toyota extends its lead over Volkswagen as industry recovers

With the first quarter 2021 in the statistics books, Toyota extends its lead over 2nd-placed Volkswagen Group to 276K units. Both OEMs are up in the double digits, compared to a COVID-ravaged Q1 2020.  The growth motor is China. In 2020, China was hit first by the virus, and in 2021, China is first to recover. Toyota’s sales in China were up 75% in the first quarter, Volkswagen Group’s China deliveries  grew 61% in Q1.  Volkswagen’s China -exposure is higher that Toyota’s. China amounts to 30% of Volkswagen’s global sales, at Toyota, 19% of global sales were made in China.

3rd-ranked Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is recovering much slower than its peers. Alliance deliveries were up not quite 7% in the first quarter, mainly driven by Nissan, which could leverage its outsized China-exposure to a 17% growth in Q1. Alliance numbers are dragged down by a flat Renault, and a very disappointing Mitsubishi with a global output down 12% in Q1.

General caveat:  Daily Kanban is now ranking global automakers by sales. We used to rank them by production. because this was how the global automaker umbrella association OICA has done in the past. 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. Reliable production data are harder and harder to come by, forcing us to switch to sales/delivery data published by automakers. Be aware that “deliveries” can be 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.

Also, please note that Mitsubishi Motors does not publish global sales, only domestic sales in Japan. For that reason, we are forced to use Mitsubishi’s published global production data as a proxy. Speaking of the Alliance, their number reporting is not allied at all, and a common picture requires considerable Excel machinations. Nissan and Mitsubishi report sales and production, Renault only reports deliveries. Mitsubishi does not report global sales, Nissan does. Mitsubishi and Renault report on a calendar year basis, Nissan insists on the new year starting on April 1.

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