Back in charge

The Gen­eral sees off Volk­swa­gen’s chal­lenge to claim world dom­i­nance

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

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.

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