Chip, chip, hooray: Toyota way ahead in World’s Largest Automaker race

World’s Largest Automakers are pulling out of the COVID-induced morass, and #1 Toyota is pulling much faster than 2nd placed Volkswagen, and way, way faster than 3rd ranked  Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. By the end of May, Toyota Group was looking at a lead of more than 400,000 globally delivered units over its German competitor. Toyota and the Alliance are separated by more than one million units, a huge distance for this time of the year.

Why is Toyota so far ahead?  Most global OEMs stepped from the COVID-fever into the chip shortage firepan, not so Toyota.  Despite being famous for its just-in-time inventories, Toyota is maintaining a sizeable strategic reserve of etched silicon – lessons learned  from earlier disasters like when the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami wiped out the Renesas fab in Sendai, and learned again when the same company’s Naka plant was on fire a few months ago. So as last year’s lack of buyers is replaced by this year’s shortage of cars, having the better cars no longer assures success. Now, you pull ahead by having cars.

The chip shortage shows no signs of abating, and every day has stories of idled factories. Toyota is mostly absent from those headlines.

The previous years were marked by neck-and-neck races between Toyota and Volkswagen. This year, the likely winner emerges early, and it is Toyota, If the current trajectories are not thrown-off by new disasters, Toyota could finish the year solidly over 10 million units sold worldwide, and with one million units more than Volkswagen.

And now for the usual disclaimer:  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 had done it in the past. OICA seems to have thrown-in the towel, and you no longer will find any recent 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.

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