It was the manufacturer to beat for three-quarters of a century, but General Motors has been steadily losing ground in recent years, whether one measures from a vehicle sales standpoint, or in terms of revenues.
The latest numbers suggest the maker is still losing momentum by both metrics. GM slid to third when it comes to units sold for the first half of 2014. And focusing on just the most recent quarter, the Detroit maker fell to fourth when it comes to gross revenues.
And it’s a question whether GM will even maintain that position, with several other major manufacturers close to catching up – especially if the U.S. maker’s ongoing safety problems begin to erode its position in the marketplace.
GM reported gross sales of $39 billion for the April to June quarter, noted Autoline: Detroit Editor John McElroy, putting it well behind Germany’s multi-brand Volkswagen AG, at $68 billion. That was well ahead of even the industry’s leader from a unit sales standpoint, Toyota, which managed a still-hefty $62 billion in revenues.
The big surprise was Daimler AG, which managed to nudge past GM with $42 billion in second-quarter revenues. GM, in turn, managed to squeak past the Euro-Asian Renault-Nissan Alliance by just $100 million.
Ford Motor Co. delivered $37 million in revenue, with fast-growing Korean siblings, Hyundai-Kia reporting $33 billion. The newly merged Fiat Chrysler had combined revenues of $31 billion. Rounding out the list of major global plays, Honda revenues came in at $29 billion, with BMW in the industry’s 10th spot at $26 billion.
The revenue numbers are yet another sign of just how far the mighty GM has fallen. But equally significant was the maker’s fall to third from a unit-sales perspective. Rival Toyota led in this column, albeit just barely. It saw a 4% gain for the first half of 2014, to 5.097 million cars, trucks and crossovers, putting it on track to meet its goal of topping 10 million for all of 2014 – the first time that would happen in industry history.
(For more on the auto sales sweepstakes, Click Here.)
Volkswagen has also been gunning for the 10 million mark, and hit 4.97 million vehicles for the first six months, with GM down in third, at 4.92 million.
(Click Here for GM’s full earnings report.)
Toyota has been picking up momentum in China after being hurt – along with the rest of the Japanese industry – due to a dispute between the two countries over ownership of a chain of uninhabited islands. Toyota also expects to sell about 100,000 more vehicles in the U.S. this year than in 2013.
For its part, VW now leads in the booming Chinese market, nudging past rival GM, though it has been struggling to reverse a U.S. market sales slump now in its third year.
GM is far from out in China, however, and is investing heavily in the hopes of regaining its lead. It is also investing in Brazil and other emerging markets – and hoping that it has finally reversed a more than decade-long decline in Europe. But perhaps the biggest uncertainty is the home U.S. market.
(Click Here for Toyota’s earnings.)
Many analysts have expressed surprise that GM’s ongoing recall problems – especially the fiasco involving faulty ignition switches – have, so far, shown little impact on the maker’s sales.
But the fiasco has taken a toll on GM earnings, which tumbled to a mere $0.2 billion, after writing off about $1.2 billion to cover its recall costs. That wasn’t even in the ballpark when it came to competitors like Toyota or Volkswagen – at $5.7 billion and $4.35 billion respectively.
Even Honda, just ninth in overall revenues, handily out-earned GM with a $1.94 billion profit for the April to June quarter.