Revealed: the car companies that had a great '06, and those that didn't
1 February 2007

General Motors remained the world's largest car-maker last year – but only by the skin of its teeth. The company's narrow survival as world number one emerged this week, as all of the motor industry's global players published their sales volume tallies for the year. The General pipped its closest rival, Toyota, to the top of the table by a mere 160,000 vehicles in the end, and that's little more than two per cent of its annual output.Autocar has collected the production figures of the global motor industry's twelve biggest powers of 2006. It paints a picture in which 'the big three' no longer exist; both Toyota and GM are accelerating away the rest of the field, while Ford's regrettable fortunes leave it two-and-a-half million units behind, and falling quickly towards the six million marker, and the clutches of the burgeoning Volkswagen Group and Renault-Nissan alliance. DaimlerChrysler is a lowly sixth in the list, and itself probably only half a million cars ahead of the combined and gathering might of Hyundai and Kia.Interesting to note lower down the list is the progress made by both Fiat and Honda, and the relative small scale of the BMW Group. What the latter proves is that you don't need to be big to make money from car-making, and even more compelling proof of that comes in the shape of Porsche. Germany's most popular sports car marque is likely to post an £800 million profit this financial year, thanks to the increases in its stock market value that resulted from its acquisition of a majority stake in the VW Group last year.That's not quite in Toyota territory, which is expecting to pay its shareholders some £7 billion for the same period, but it's not bad for a company that currently sells about a hundredth of the number of cars the Japanese manufacturer churns out.

The biggest car-makers of 2006:

1. GM – 9,180,000 vehicles (up 1.4% from 9,050,000)2. Toyota – 9,020,000 vehicles (up 9.5% from 8,237,000)3. Ford – 6,597,000 vehicles (down 2.5% from 6,767,000)4. Renault-Nissan – 5,911,000 vehicles (down 3.6% from 6,132,000)5. Volkswagen Group – 5,730,000 vehicles (up 9.3% from 5,355,000) 6. DaimlerChrysler – 4,500,000 vehicles (down 6.25% from 4,800,000)* 7. Hyundai & Kia – 4,011,000 vehicles (up 5.2% from 3,806,000)8. Honda – 3,630,000 vehicles (up 6.6% from 3,510,000)9. PSA Peugeot-Citroen – 3,366,000 vehicles (down 0.7% from 3,390,000)10. Fiat Group – 1,980,000 vehicles (up 16.7% from 1,700,000)11. BMW Group – 1,373,000 vehicles (up 3.5% from 1,327,992)12. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation – 1,313,000 vehicles (down 3.6% from 1,362,000)*figure is an estimate, since DCX has yet to release its financial results

Matt Saunders

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