February 26th, 2013 at 11:56am
In a move that caught most industry observers by surprise, General Motors hired away the top marketing executive from Volkswagen of America. The U.S. Treasury Department is selling off its remaining shares in General Motors. And one of those people who bought stock was GM CEO Dan Akerson. NISMO became Nissan’s exclusive performance and motorsports brand. All that and more, plus John McElroy shows you how the top car companies stack up against each other.
Welcome to Autoline Daily. Later on in the show we’ll be asking you about this week’s poll, but before we get to that, let’s cover the news.
MAHONEY FINDS A NEW ROAD
In a move that caught most industry observers by surprise, General Motors hired away the top marketing executive from Volkswagen of America. Tim Mahoney will run all of GM’s global marketing operations as well as serve as chief marketing officer for Chevrolet on a global basis. He will report to Alan Batey who is the interim Global Chief Marketing Officer at GM. Autoline viewers will remember that I interviewed Tim Mahoney during our live webcast of the LA Auto Show while he was still at VW. Prior to that he also worked at Porsche and at Subaru. This is a great move for GM and for Chevrolet because Mahoney has a proven track record with German and Japanese brands, which are exactly who GM is going to have to fight to regain market share. VW has been on a tear in the American market lately and I’ve got to believe that GM hopes Mahoney can replicate that momentum at Chevrolet.
AKERSON BUYS STOCK, SEEKS RAISE
The U.S. Treasury Department is selling off its remaining shares in General Motors. So far it sold at least 5.4 million shares and netted over $156 million in January. And one of those people who bought stock was GM CEO Dan Akerson. He purchased 25,000 shares for just over $660,000 which brings his total GM stock ownership to nearly 300,000 shares. Akerson also wants a raise, a 20 percent raise to $11 million. The Detroit News reports, that the company is looking to pay its top 25 executives $82 million in 2013. But GM must get approval from the Treasury Department since the government still controls a stake in the company.
THE GT-R IS FINDING NISMO
The NISMO brand, which was founded in 1984, has been well-known in the world of motorsports for its styling, handling and performance. Now the company is moving into a new era as it becomes Nissan’s exclusive performance and motorsports brand. NISMO will create a range of affordable performance models from small cars to sports cars. First comes the Juke NISMO, which will come to the U.S. in the spring, second will be a revised 370Z NISMO, for this summer, and then Nissan’s flagship sports car, the GT-R. Production will begin at NISMO’s new headquarters and development center in Yokohama, Japan.
GOLF GETS A HYBRID DRIVE
Volkswagen has been in the news over the last few days with announcement of new hybrid drive vehicles, like the XL1 and the Up! Hybrid. So why not add another to the list? Well that is exactly what the German automaker has done. It announced a plug-in hybrid version of the Golf that will share the same powertrain as the Audi A3 e-tron. A 1.4 Liter turbo gas engine and a 101 horsepower electric motor mated to a 6-speed automatic. While no pictures have been released yet, we will get to see it in the flesh next week at the Geneva Motor Show.
Ok, it’s time for this week’s poll question. With all the diesels that are coming to the U.S. this year, we were wondering, will they eventually become more popular than hybrids? So that’s this week’s question. By 2020 which powertrain do you expect to sell better in the U.S., diesels or hybrids? And we mean strong hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, not a weak hybrid that just adds a little bit of electric boost like the Chevy Malibu Eco. To vote, just visit Autoline.tv and click the link under today’s show notes. And you can also get your friends and family to participate by sending them the link below the poll as well.
Last year General Motors was rated as the largest car company in the world. This year it’s fallen to third place. In fact, I’ll show you how the top car companies stack up against each other, right after this.
There’s a lot of jockeying amongst the biggest car companies in the world. They all want to get bigger in the belief that this will give them the economy of scale they need to have lower costs and higher profits. So how do they stack up against each other? Let’s take a look.
When it comes to who sold the most cars, trucks and busses last year, then Toyota takes the top spot, with a 400,000 unit lead over Volkswagen. What makes Toyota’s performance all the more impressive is that all Japanese automakers suffered lower sales in China last year when consumers boycotted their cars because of a dispute between China and Japan over some islands. VW motored past GM to take the second spot, and then there’s a big drop off to Nissan-Renault. And then look at this. Hyundai-Kia have now surpassed the Ford Motor Company in global sales as well as Fiat-Chrysler and Honda.
Another way to rank the car companies is by the amount of revenue, or money, that they take in. And guess what? Toyota is still at the top of the list. Or at least it will likely be. Japanese automakers operate on a fiscal year that concludes at the end of March, so this revenue number is what Toyota says it will hit. But in my experience, when Toyota says it’s going to hit a number, it hits it, so I’ll take them at their word. VW is in second place, but lookee here, Nissan-Renault pulled in more money than General Motors. Now that is quite unexpected. Then come Ford, Honda and Fiat. Amazingly, the Hyundai Group is way behind the other big companies. Presumably Hyundai doesn’t pull in as much money because it sells so many lower priced cars, especially in Asia.
And if we rank the automakers by their net profit then once again Toyota is at the top of the list with more than $10 billion dropping to the bottom line. Then there’s a big dropoff to VW and Hyundai-Kia. But the Hyundai number is extremely impressive considering how small its revenue number is. Hyundai has the highest corporate profit margins of all the major car companies and by a wide margin. Ford is solidly ahead of GM, Honda is hot on GM’s heels and Fiat trails the rest, mainly because of all its problems in Europe.
When you look at all these rankings it’s clear that Toyota is the biggest car company in the world, and that the Hyundai group is growing faster than all the rest. I got all this information out of each company’s financial earnings, press releases, and media reports. I made certain assumptions on currency exchanges when these were not provided by the companies. I also adjusted the Japanese numbers to account for their different fiscal year. So when the Japanese post their final figures these numbers could change a little bit, but I don’t think they’ll change any of these rankings. I hope you find these rankings as interesting as I do, because there’s some real surprises here.
And that brings us to the end of today’s report. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.
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