In the last few weeks of 2012, Toyota is on track to get back the title of the biggest automaker in the world for 2012. Meanwhile, second place could go either to Volkswagen or General Motors. The entire industry seems to be headed for a record year. LMC Automotive estimates that worldwide 2012 sales will exceed 80 million cars and trucks for the first time ever as strong sales in Japan and the U.S. offset a downturn in Europe.
Toyota is on the rebound after having struggled in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami in Japan, taking the title away from GM. With less than 1% difference in the sales between Volkswagen and GM, it’s tough to guess which of them will win second place.
The three companies have all gained from the robust demand in the U.S. light-vehicle market, which is about to achieve its third consecutive year of gains after the industry’s collapse in 2009 and subsequent bailout. It’s predicted that U.S. sales will go up again in 2013, making it the longest sequence since the end of World War II.
Rebecca Lindland, an industry analyst with IHS Automotive, said that since the U.S. is so big, a double-digit growth in this market will boost the other parts of the world. He explained that the gains could hide its weaknesses elsewhere since many economies in the world aren’t that strong.
Next year, the battle at the top will be heated. LMC predicted that Volkswagen will add 600,000 units of production capacity in 2013, as much as GM and Toyota combined. It also predicts that China will be revived, boosting Volkswagen’s prospects. Volkswagen has been confident in saying that by 2018, it will be the leader when it comes to global sales.