TOKYO – The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance sold 10.76 million light vehicles globally last year, outpacing rivals Volkswagen Group and Toyota if heavy truck sales are excluded from their sales results.
Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors together sold 10.76 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in 2018, according to Reuters' calculations after new data was released on Wednesday.
VW Group registrations rose 0.9 percent to 10.83 million , including its MAN and Scania heavy trucks, the company said earlier this month. Excluding heavy trucks, it sold 10.6 million units.
Toyota said on Wednesday 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. The automaker has said it expects to sell 10.76 million vehicles in 2019.
Nissan said on Wednesday it sold 5.65 million vehicles last year, down 2.8 percent on the year. Mitsubishi reported an 18 percent rise in sales to 1.22 million units while Renault sold 3.88 million units, up 3.2 percent. The three-way alliance does not sell heavy trucks.
Many automakers 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 alliance, 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.
VW is betting on fresh models such as the small T-Cross crossover, the Seat Tarraco and the updated Audi Q3 to help sustain demand despite growing headwinds. The Audi premium-car brand, its largest profit contributor, will start rolling out its first all-electric model E-tron later this year.
Toyota is rolling out an all-new version of the world’s top-selling vehicle, the Corolla, to accelerate its push in China and keep up the pressure on Volkswagen in other markets. The company has also refreshed its Prius hybrid car as it continues its pursuit of electrified vehicles.
Automakers have warned of challenges this year, including trade spats that threaten to exacerbate an already cooling global economy. Stricter emission rules worldwide are set to force manufacturers to sell more battery-powered cars that are less profitable than combustion vehicles. The squeeze is already becoming evident. Ford and Jaguar Land Rover this month announced thousands of job cuts in Europe.
“Global car manufacturers are taking measures to limit the impact of a deteriorating environment in several markets, and potential pressure on earnings and cash generation coming from declining new vehicle sales,” Fitch Ratings said in a report. That said, many companies entering this phase of the cycle are “better positioned than the last downturn,” according to the ratings agency.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.