Volkswagen has held onto its position as the world’s top-selling carmaker for the fifth year in a row, although the German group was edged out again by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance in the light-duty vehicles segment.
Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi together sold 10.76 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in 2018. The group doesn’t sell heavy trucks.
Nissan said it sold 5.65 million vehicles last year, down 2.8% on the year. Mitsubishi reported an 18% rise in sales to 1.22 million units while Renault sold 3.88 million units, up 3.2% on the year.
Volkswagen’s deliveries rose 0.9% to a record 10.83 million last year, including its MAN and Scania heavy trucks, the German company said earlier this month. Excluding heavy trucks, it sold 10.6 million units.
Toyota retained its third spot, announcing that it had sold 10.59 million vehicles last year including its Toyota and Lexus brands, along with minicars made by subsidiary Daihatsu and light and heavy trucks produced by its truck division Hino Motors.
Excluding Hino trucks, Toyota sold 10.39 million units last year. The carmaker has said it expects to sell a total of 10.76 million vehicles in 2019.
Many carmakers are trying to boost sales volumes to achieve economies of scale and reduce costs amid soaring investments needed to develop next-generation technologies, including self-driving cars and electric vehicles.
This has been a focus of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi group, which is looking to share more vehicle parts and consolidate production platforms to trim R&D and manufacturing costs, while raising profitability.
The alliance, which brought Mitsubishi Motors into its fold in 2016, is currently in crisis with its former chairman Carlos Ghosn arrested and indicted on charges of misconduct. Nissan has also been indicted, and Renault appointed new top management last week.
Mr Ghosn has said Nissan executives opposed to his plans for closer ties with Renault resorted to “plot and treason” to disrupt them and were behind the financial misconduct allegations against him.
Mr Ghosn said he had discussed plans to integrate the companies with Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa in September.
But Nissan executives employed “plot and treason” to uproot those plans, Mr Ghosn said.
Mr Ghosn, who spearheaded Nissan’s turnaround two decades ago, had pushed for a deeper tie-up between Nissan and Renault, including possibly a full merger, despite strong reservations at the Japanese corporation.