Back in charge
The General sees off Volkswagen’s challenge to claim world dominance
7.95 million. The oncedominant American juggernaut lifted its showroom performance by 7.6 per cent and claimed 11.9 per cent of the global total last year, which sets the world’s annual appetite for new vehicles at about 75 million.
Most big brands reported a significant sales increase last year as the effects of the global economic crisis eased slightly. However, Toyota’s result— after an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, flooding in Thailand and a continuing lack of confidence in the US— was down by 6 per cent overall. GM’S best recovery came at home with an 11.4 per cent improvement in its domestic sales to 2,625,000, led by Chevrolet.
Its global total includes results logged by Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC in the US, as well as Opel and Vauxhall in Europe, Holden in Australia and a variety of Chinese partners. But it is the Chinese brands— SAIC and Liuzhou Wuling Motors— that are the source of Volkswagen’s challenge to the sales results.
It says thatgmis not the majority shareholder and so cannot claim the 1.2 million vehicles they add to its total. Volkswagen— which banks the VW, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Seat and Skoda totals— also says its 2011 result does not include 200,000 trucks produced under theman and Scania nameplates. Regardless, the Gmoutcome is a big turnaround for a company that needed— like Chrysler— giant government loans to prevent a total collapse when the GFC first hit.
It has now repaid those loans and is pushing ahead with expansion on numerous fronts, although— in common with Ford— it is also making a renewed effort at true globalisation, which means cutting the number of vehicle platforms it uses around the world. Not surprisingly, the mechanical package beneath today’s VE Commodore, and the VF coming in 2014, is one of those under major threat.
For Volkswagen, the 2011 results are another significant boost and it aims to be world No.1 by 2018. It faces a threat from Hyundai-kia, the world’s fastest-growing car group, and Toyota is also predicting a solid comeback.