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VW set to take silver

On the up: Volkswagen looks set to replace GM as the world's number two car-maker.

General Motors is set to slide down the pecking order behind Volkswagen

Volkswagen logo9 Apr 2009

THE bad news just keeps coming for General Motors, for so long the overlord of the automotive world.

Not only has it lost first place among the world’s car-makers to Toyota, but the slide has only just begun.

Volkswagen is set to push GM down to third place, according to the German arm of automotive statistics group R L Polk.

Polk Germany believes that the cuts GM is inflicting on itself as it strives to achieve viability in a rapidly changing world will ensure it loses another place on the ladder.

Polk points out that GM will reduce production by about 31 per cent this year, from 8.15 million in 2008 to 6.22 million cars and trucks.

On the other hand, Volkswagen will only have to trim production by perhaps 15 per cent because it is not as heavily reliant on the weak North American market, Polk Germany said in a statement.

“Volkswagen will therefore overtake… GM and advance to become the new number two after Toyota,” Polk said.

However, the numbers aren’t as clear cut as all that.

In its 2008 annual report, Volkswagen said it produced 6.35 million units in 2008.

That would be enough to pass GM if VW production did not decline, but a 15 per cent drop as forecast by Polk would reduce VW’s output to 5.52 million.

Polk was optimistic about the medium-term outlook for the industry, after world production fell by around 12 million units to 52.8 million in 2008.

Polk expects production to start rising again in 2010, with growth accelerating in 2011 and 2012 and pushing the world output to a record 70 million in 2012.

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