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VW disputes GM’s 2011 sales figures

Out for the count: General Motors' 2011 sales supremacy has been called into question by Volkswagen.

GM sales count called into question as Ford, Toyota publish official 2011 results

General News logo30 Jan 2012

SALES figures issued by General Motors and crowning it as world’s largest vehicle manufacturer have been called into question by rival Volkswagen, which cried foul over GM’s inclusion of results from affiliated companies in which it has a minority stake.

Similarly, if the Renault-Nissan Alliance decides to include 637,000 sales from Russian manufacturer AvtoVaz – in which it is yet to take a controlling stake – its combined total of 8.03 million units would shift Toyota, which on Friday announced it produced 7.95 million vehicles in 2011 – into fourth position.

Meanwhile, official numbers from Ford confirm it has lost its place in the world’s top five largest automotive manufacturers to Hyundai-Kia, which shipped 6.53 million vehicles last year compared with only 5.7 million from the Blue Oval.

According to the Wall Street Journal, at the heart of VW’s grievance with GM is the inclusion of sales achieved by Chinese manufacturers of which it has minority ownership, SAIC (49 per cent) and Liuzhou Wuling (44 per cent).

80 center imageLeft: Wuling Sunshine van.

Each of GM’s Chinese joint-ventures sold in the region of 1.2 million vehicles last year, so subtracting their contributions would reduce GM’s total to 6.54 million, placing it just above Hyundai-Kia and giving VW, with 8.16 million sales, the number one spot it covets.

VW, which has a target of becoming the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer by 2018 with 10 million annual sales, has reportedly stated an intention to revise its figures to include sales from its majority-owned truck makers MAN and Scania.

However, the ambitious German giant counted 2.25 million sales in China towards its 2011 total from holdings in Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive – being 50 per cent, the maximum allowable by foreign vehicle manufacturers under Chinese law – and a 40 per cent stake in FAW-Volkswagen.

GM spokesman Jim Cain told the Wall Street Journal the company’s goal is “to be the best, not necessarily the biggest”.

“If we had announced plans on world domination, we probably would have been quibbling with the sales of our competitors and that’s as far removed from focusing on the customers as you can get,” he said.

With a 7.6 per cent increase, GM grew slightly faster in 2011 than Ford (up 7.5 per cent) but despite these healthy gains, the Detroit establishment could not manage the double-digit growth figures achieved by international competition.

Sales for VW shot up by 14.3 per cent last year, while the Renault-Nissan Alliance grew 10.3 per cent and Hyundai-Kia sales skyrocketed 25 per cent.

Toyota is also predicting a 21 per cent bounce-back to 8.58 million sales this year after 2011’s six per cent sales drop caused by the global production slowdown following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, then serious floods in Thailand later in the year.

Where Detroit did achieve double-digit increases was on home soil, with Ford growing faster than GM, a 17 per cent increase in US sales comparing well against GM’s 13.7 per cent domestic growth.

As GoAuto has reported, Ford has a target of reaching eight million annual sales by 2015, which would require a 50 per cent increase in volume compared with 2010’s result of 5.3 million units.

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