Toyota held on to the No. 1 spot in the 2021 sales race, and grew its lead over second-placed Volkswagen.
The Mercedes-Benz Group dropped out of the top 10, as rival BMW returned to the chart, and Suzuki lifted one spot.
Thanks to a decline at GM, both Hyundai and Stellantis also moved up one place on the charts.
1 Toyota, with 10,495,548 sales, up 11.8 per cent.
2 Volkswagen Group. with 8,610,100 sales, down 5.5 per cent.
3 Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance, with 7,680,014, down 1.3 per cent.
4 Hyundai Motor Group, with 6,667,085, up 5 per cent.
5 Stellantis, with 6,583,269, up 5.2 per cent.
6 General Motors, with 6,291,999, down 7.9 per cent.
7 Honda, with 4,121,000, down 6.5 per cent.
8 Ford Motor company, with 3,942,000, down 5.9 per cent.
9 Suzuki, with 2,763,000, up 12.9 per cent.
10 BMW, with 2,521,514, up 8.5 per cent.
For the second year running, these sales figures are heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While in 2020, lockdowns stopped production and prevented sales, in 2021, global supply chain problems, most notably for semiconductors, have led all manufacturers to halt production at various times.
Consumers have seen this play out with low stock at dealerships, and sky-high prices for used vehicles.
As with last year, we’ve gone into the numbers for a few manufacturers outside the top 10 which might be of interest to Australians.
In this arena, Tesla was clearly the standout performer, almost doubling its sales and coming with touching distance of a million units.
Unless otherwise mentioned, the numbers used in this article come directly from manufacturers. Please note, manufacturers have different methodologies for calculating sales or delivery figures.
Toyota at 10.3m
Toyota sold 10,340,336 vehicles across its Toyota, Lexus and Daihatsu brands in 2021. For easier apples-to-apples comparisons, we’ve excluded Hino’s 155,212 trucks from our calculations and numbers unless otherwise stated.
While many other automakers had to drastically cut production because of the global semiconductor shortage, Toyota was able to sail through the first three quarters of the year before it had to implement widespread shutdowns.
The Japanese automaker credits stockpiling and its close relationship with suppliers for its ability ride out the early part of the storm.
Once again, Toyota is the dominant hybrid vehicle manufacturer, with the drivetrain type popularised by the Prius and now available in many model lines now accounting for 24 per cent of all sales.
While the company unveiled its first mainstream electric vehicle last year, the bZ4X won’t go on sale globally until later in 2022.
All the Toyota electric cars and mild hybrids sold in 2021 were the from the European ProAce and ProAce City vans, which are badge-engineered versions of the Peugeot Expert/Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Partner/Citroen Berlingo, respectively.
Volkswagen at 8.6m
Things didn’t pan out so well at the Volkswagen Group, with the German automaker’s passenger car divisions down 5.5 per cent to 8,610,600.
Volkswagen cars accounted for 4,896,900 sales, with Audi next at 1,680,500 and then Skoda at 878,200.
But overall, the German automaker’s passenger car divisions down 5.5 per cent to 8,610,600.
As with Toyota, we’ve subtracted the sales of the company’s truck brands from the overall figure so the numbers are more comparable from manufacturer to manufacturer.
While the mainstream Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda brands were down, Seat saw sales climb thanks to its Cupra sub-brand. Cupra’s first unique vehicle, the Formentor crossover, enjoyed its first full year on sale and helped grow the marque significantly.
The automaker’s stable of high-profit, low-volume brands also enjoyed notable improvement.
Although the Volkswagen Group had improved sales in many regions, a big dip in China saw the automaker lose significant ground with Toyota in the sales race.
The automaker is into its second full year of big push into electric vehicles, with all its electric models notching up big gains over 2020.
Overall, the group sold 452,900 electric cars around the world, a 221,300 unit or 95.5 per cent increase from the year before.
Unsurprisingly, a crossover (the ID.4) holds top spot. Indeed, crossovers account for at least 47.1 per cent of EV sales, but the real number should be close to 50 per cent as Porsche doesn’t break out numbers of the Cross Turismo from the rest of the Taycan range.
One car has disappeared off the chart: the Volkswagen e-Golf. While the electric hatch racked up 41,300 sales in 2020, it was discontinued as the Golf entered its eighth generation.
Audi’s two most popular models are now crossovers, with the A6 the last remaining sedan/wagon combo with a podium spot.
Sales are now almost evenly split between crossovers and traditional body styles, with the latter now accounting for 49.7 per cent of the brand’s volume.
Audi sold 81,894 electric vehicles in 2021, or 4.9 per cent of its total. EV sales jumped 57.4 per cent, thanks to the addition of two new models: the MEB-based Q4 e-tron crossover and the e-tron GT, latter of which is the Porsche Taycan’s twin in a sharp business suit.
The alliance saw sales increase by 0.14 per cent to 7,680,014. A drop in sales by the Renault Group were largely offset by a strong performance from Mitsubishi Motors.
The Renault Group saw slight gains at both of its budget brands, Dacia and Lada, which help to offset a decline at its namesake marque. We’re likely to see a steep fall in Renault’s 2022 numbers as it is reportedly planning to sell its controlling stake in Lada after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A strong improvement in North America helped Nissan increase sales marginally globally despite falls in every other market.
While there were declines in China, Japan and Europe, North America helped to pull the automaker into the black on the back of new generations of popular models.
Mitsubishi was the bright star in the alliance in 2021, with big improvements in most markets.
There was a big fall, however, in Europe. As part of the leader-follower plan unveiled in mid-2020, Mitsubishi had initially planned to leave the continent in order to focus on developing markets.
In 2021, the company reversed course and decided to sell to stay in some European countries with redesigned Renault models, including a successor to the ASX based on the Renault Captur.
Derek Fung is a journalist with carexpert.