Who’s On Top? Volkswagen, GM Battle It Out For Biggest Carmaker Supremacy

By Blake Z. Rong | January 20, 2012
Volkswagen owns eight brands worldwide: VW, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, SEAT, Škoda, and truck companies Scania and MAN. General Motors had, at its peak, 11 brands, which the forces that be whittled down to seven (and just four in America). Yet GM managed to sell 9 million vehicles across the globe last year, making it the biggest carmaker in the world—a fact that VW is willing to challenge. Volkswagen sold 8.2 million cars last year, which is a substantial figure, but as our elementary school teachers taught us, it’s still less than 9 million. So what’s the problem? Automotive News claims that GM’s joint ventures with Chinese automakers SAIC and Wuling Motors shouldn’t count, as GM doesn’t own the brands outright. It’s a substantial figure—Wuling sold 1.2 million cars last year in the ever-booming Chinese market, to say nothing of SAIC’s runaway popularity with Buick. The same scenario plays out for Volkswagen with their parental guidance of German truckmaker MAN, which according to the Wall Street Journal, adds to their sales totals. Volkswagen hasn’t added these to their totals yet. But if it does, it could see a sales figure boost by over 200,000 vehicles.
Either way, GM is back on top—for the eighth decade in a row—after losing the biggest-automaker prize to Toyota in 2008 before the whole messy recall business. Toyota hasn’t released its sales data yet, but those figures won’t go anywhere near GM and VW due to production delays with 2011’s natural disasters. And for those of you keeping track, those 11 GM brands were: Geo; Chevrolet; Pontiac; Oldsmobile; Buick; Cadillac; GMC; Saab; Opel; Vauxhall; and Holden; all available simultaneously during the mid-90s. Source: Automotive News