The automaker alliance of Renault-Nissan emerged as the biggest seller in the world of light vehicles for 2017, knocking Volkswagen AG off its perch, after including Mitsubishi Motors’ sales numbers into its final tally.
Nissan Motor Co recorded sales that were a record high at 5.82 million. Renault SA the French automaker reported 3.76 million in sales, while Mitsubishi sales reached 1.03 million, which brought the total sales for 2017 for all three to just over 10.61 million for light vehicles.
The three companies together beat Volkswagen’s record sales of light vehicles of 10.53 million. The VW sales include VW, Audi, Seat, Skoda and Porsche.
Toyota Motor, which was the holder in 2016 of the No. 2 spot, posted sales for its group of just over 10.2 million in 2017, excluding its heavy trucks brand Hino Motors.
Many automakers have been attempting to increase sales volumes in order to achieve economies of scale as well as cut costs amidst increased investments needed to develop automotive technologies that are next-generation, including electric vehicles, self-driving vehicles and mobility services.
That has been a big focus for the Renault-Nissan group and a key motivation of Nissan in its acquisition of controlling interest in Mitsubishi Motors its smaller rival in 2016.
Chairman of Renault-Nissan Carlos Ghosn promised to make scale an advantage that would be used to double savings to $12 billion before 2022, based upon an increase in sales volumes annually to over 14 million.
Nissan, Renault and other automakers have looked into sharing more parts for vehicles and consolidating production platforms to cut research and design as well as manufacturing costs and increase profitability.
Toyota has taken an approach that is similar, as it has partnered with Suzuki Motor and Mazda Motor to cut down development and marketing costs of electric vehicles and other newer technologies.
However, not all of the automakers consider scale the way to finding better efficiency as well as profitability.
General Motors has decided that size is not as important as it sold Opel, its struggling operation in Europe to PSA in 2017, to focus its capital on ventures that are more profitable.
That strategy appears to have worked for the automaker, as it posted a 6.8% profit margin for the period from January 2017 through September 2017. It was higher than the 5.0% margin of Nissan and the 4.3% of Mitsubishi for six months through the end of October, and the 4.8% margin from January through June at Renault.