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Earthquake knocks Toyota off top spot

Crippled: Quake-affected Toyota could well be demoted from world’s first to fourth-largest automaker, behind General Motors, Volkswagen Group and the Renault-Nissan alliance.

VW, Renault-Nissan overtake Toyota in first half as GM prepares sales figures

28 Jul 2011

TOYOTA lost its global sales lead in the first half of this year, its sales sliding 22.5 per cent to 3.3 million vehicles as a result of “severely hampered production” from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11.

The natural disaster enabled the Volkswagen Group and Renault-Nissan alliance to both sell more vehicles than the Japanese giant in the six months to the end of June.

General Motors, which sold just 28,000 fewer vehicles than Toyota last year, is expected to take the global sales crown when it announces its half-year results on August 4. GM brand Chevrolet recorded 2.35 million sales alone.

VW is celebrating another sales record, having achieved a 14.1 per cent year-on-year increase to 4.1 million units, a lead of more than 714,000 over Toyota.

Ambitious Hyundai-Kia also enjoyed a record-breaking six months, totting up 3.1 sales in an impressive 16.9 per cent increase, meaning just 220,018 units separated it from Toyota.

The fast-growing South Korean manufacturer more than doubled its lead over Ford to 233,674 units, the Blue Oval growing 9.4 per cent to deliver 2,922,000 units to the end of June.

80 center imageFrom top: Hyundai i45 and Elantra, Kia Sportage and Cerato, Ferrari 599 GTO.

The Renault-Nissan alliance is also proving a force to be reckoned with, having sold 3.6 million vehicles to the end of June – an 8.8 per cent rise and 274,178 more than Toyota.

The alliance published figures early this year suggesting it had sold more vehicles than VW in 2010, which would have earned it the title of world’s third largest automaker.

However, this was brought into question by Automotive News because it included 570,014 sales by Russian manufacturer AvtoVAZ, in which the alliance holds a 25 per cent stake.

Automotive News argued that because the Alliance does not have board or management control of AvtoVAZ it is not qualified to include those sales in its total.

Toyota hopes to bounce back, having restored production levels to 90 per cent and a planned return to full production from November or December.

The company also plans to produce an extra 350,000 vehicles between October and next March to “make up for production lost to the disaster and its after effects”, although this is unlikely to be enough to catch VW (or GM) this year.

VW’s indefatigable march towards world domination continues apace, performing “noticeably better than the world market”, with healthy growth registered in all regions, including a 21.2 per cent sales surge in North America.

Almost a third of all Volkswagen Group cars are now sold in China, where the company grew 16.4 per cent year-on-year. Sales exploded 217 per cent in India, from 17,400 in the first six months of 2010 to 55,100 during the same period this year.

Strong growth of 28.9 per cent was achieved by VW in Central and Eastern Europe, South America grew 10.9 per cent and sales in Western Europe (excluding Germany) were up 5.5 per cent. Sales in the company’s German home market, which it treats as a separate region, were up 9.3 per cent.

Hyundai-Kia’s global sales increase was helped by strong performance in North America, with Hyundai registering a 26.2 per cent rise and Kia racking up an impressive 41.5 per cent growth figure.

Kia also grew 19 per cent in China, 17.2 per cent in Europe and 8.8 per cent in its home market. The group’s success was attributed to demand for the Hyundai i45 mid-size sedan, Kia Sportage SUV and Hyundai Elantra and Kia Cerato small cars.

Brazil become the Renault brand’s third-largest market after France and Germany with a 24.6 per cent increase in sales providing it with a 4.9 per cent share of the Brazilian market. Sales were up 76 per cent in Russia, where Renault became third-most popular brand and Iran, where sales grew 70 per cent.

Renault sales dropped 9.6 per cent in its Asia/Africa region and were 9.9 per cent down in Europe. Regions outside Europe now account for 39.5 per cent of Renault group sales.

Nissan sales grew 18.1 per cent in its home market, with sales in other regions leaping 32.6 per cent, helped by a 51.4 per cent sales spike in China, high demand in Thailand and Indonesia and a strong 26.6 per cent increase in US sales. Sales in Europe also achieved double-digit growth of 18.5 per cent.

Ford, probably taking up some of the slack from its earthquake-affected Japanese rivals, managed to increase its market share in the US and Europe and recorded its best June for 22 years in Canada, where it is the most popular automotive brand.

Blue Oval sales in Turkey and Russia increased 40 per cent and 30 per cent respectively in the second quarter, while in the first quarter India recorded a 115 per cent increase in Ford sales while Chinese sales rose 18 per cent.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Ferrari announced an 11.8 per cent increase in sales for the first half of the year, with a huge 116 per cent increase in the Chinese market, an impressive 50 per cent jump in demand from UK customers and 23 per cent hike in US sales.

The Prancing Horse attributes its success to the limited-edition 599 GTO road-racer and SA Aperta convertible along with the continued popularity of its California coupe-convertible and 458 Italia sportscar.

Deliveries of the FF have only just begun, making it too early for the all-wheel drive, big-booted coupe to contribute to sales figures.

Ferrari’s profits also increased 23.5 per cent, thanks in part to car sales but also due to a 45 per cent rise in sales of branded merchandise and its Ferrari World theme park in Abu Dhabi having received more than 600,000 visitors since opening in October last year.

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