Toyota Ousts GM from Global Auto Sales Leadership. VW Third

Ten million in vehicle sales is the number likely needed for next year’s global auto sales leader.

Toyota Motor regained global auto sales leadership in 2012 ousting GM by selling 9.75 million vehicles. GM’s sales were 9.29 million vehicles, a modest 2.9% gain, with Volkswagen Group closing on GM in third place at 9.07 million vehicles for the year. Toyota had led global auto sales from 2008 until 2010 when natural-disaster induced production disruptions, the result of a tragic earthquake in Japan and flooding in Thailand, halted its growth. Toyota will likely sell almost 10 million vehicles in 2013.

The strong performance for Toyota Motor, +23% in 2012 compared to 2011, in spite of its well-publicized quality, recall and legal problems, stemming in part from the ongoing unintended acceleration fiasco, is a sign of the apparently undiminished strength of its Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands. (Read AutoInformed on Toyota Settles Lawsuits for $1.1 Billion and Will Modify Millions of Vehicles with Electronically Controlled Gas Pedals to Stop Runaways)

GM, saddled with a sinking Opel/Vauxhall in Europe, a new product program that lags competitors because of its 2009 bankruptcy, and its inability to grow at anywhere near the rate of the slowly recovering U.S. market, looks like it will have a tough time holding off VW in 2013. China the world’s largest auto market where GM leads in sales remains a stronghold, though. (Read AutoInformed on General Motors U.S. Sales Slow in December as Market Picks Up and  Record 2012 Sales in China for GM, Volkswagen Group, Ford Motor)

Volkswagen Group, bolstered by its commanding share of 25%  in Europe (three times GM’s), its strong position as the Number Two automaker in China, and its deep pockets where it will invest €50.2 billion in its Automotive Division in the coming three years, is a clear threat to GM in the short term, as well as Toyota a few years further out.

With VW Group capital expenditures at roughly 6%-7% of growing annual sales revenues, VW will have the capacity to become Number One in auto sales globally. Two AutoInformed caveats here: that is if global sales expand as projected; and if buyers make VW Group the biggest, by choosing one car, one van, one truck or one commercial vehicle at a time during the ongoing automotive marketing wars. The VW Group lineup is one GM wished it had – Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, SEAT, Skoda, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Scania. At least six of these are global competitors. (Read AutoInformed on Volkswagen Group to Invest €50 Billion During Next Three Years and Volkswagen Group Posts Record Profit of €11.3 Billion)

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About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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