Country of Origin: Japan
Unit Sales (2014): 2.88 million
Number of Employees: 14,571
Although Suzuki’s global presence has diminished in recent years, its sales are currently driven by its strong performance in India, where it is the top automaker alongside Hyundai Motors.
The company, which operates under the name Maruti Suzuki, has recently announced that it aims to sell 2 million cars per year in India by 2020. It has been recording double-digit growth monthly in the country this year, and sales of its two-wheelers have been growing despite the overall downturn in the automotive market.
9. PSA Peugeot-Citroën
Country of Origin: France
Unit Sales (2014): 2.94 million
Number of Employees: 184,804
PSA Peugeot had a remarkably tough couple of years, with the company reporting a €114-million loss in 2014. The French automaker squeezed out the first positive net income for the first time in four years in the first half of this year thanks to a weakened Euro.
However, the company is still in the midst of a recovery and is expected to face troubles ahead, as it works against a number of headwinds such as the China slowdown, a surge in engine manufacturing costs to comply with stricter Euro 6 emissions regulation, and labor troubles in its Latin American and Russian operations.
8. Honda Motor
Country of Origin: Japan
Unit Sales (2014): 4.36 million
Number of Employees: 199,368
The Japanese automaker’s performance in the U.S. has picked up, as it is currently outpacing the market on the sale of their small crossovers and midsize sedans. In July, American Honda’s sales rose to 146,324 units, posting solid 7.7% sales growth.
The growth in the U.S. comes as a bit of a surprise given the massive safety scandal earlier this year involving exploding airbags supplied by fellow Japanese automotive parts manufacturer Takata. Honda was forced to issue recalls related to Takata airbags, amounting to an estimated 24.5 million vehicles.
Country of Origin: Italy, USA
Unit Sales (2014): 4.75 million
Number of Employees: 228,690
Despite a solid performance in 2014, Fiat-Chrysler has had a roller coaster 2015, when it was issued the largest fine in history on an automaker by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The record-breaking $105 million penalty was levied against the company for failing to complete 23 safety recalls covering more than 11 million vehicles.
In addition to the fine, Fiat Chrysler is required to buy back as many as 500,000 vehicles with defective suspensions that could cause drivers to lose control. The company is currently recalling at least 1.4 million vehicles that are vulnerable to computer hackers.
In spite of the setbacks, Fiat Chrysler’s sales in the United States have consistently outperformed the rest of the industry, with the company’s sales rising 6.1% in the first half of 2015.
6. Ford Motor
Country of Origin: USA
Unit Sales (2014): 6.32 million
Number of Employees: 224,000
Ford is continuing its winning streak, posting $4.27 billion in pre-tax profit in 2015, up 7.3% from a year ago. Also, Ford reported record profits in North America on the back of high sales numbers for its sport utility vehicles and trucks.
However, Ford will have to remain alert and vigilant in its global performance, especially in Europe, where the company has posted a $14 million loss so far this year, wiping out its $14 million profit of 2014. Furthermore, slowing sales in Latin America and China are sure to weigh down overall performance as the company looks to make 2015 a “breakthrough year.”
5. Hyundai Motor Group
Country of Origin: South Korea
Unit Sales (2014): 7.71 million
Number of Employees: 249,366
The South Korean conglomerate (which includes Kia) had a remarkably difficult 2014, and it is expected to continue to struggle through 2015. The number one reason for the struggle? The strong Korean currency.
In 2014, Hyundai’s sales rose 4.8% and its sales revenue increased 2.2%, but it’s net profit fell an astounding 14%. With the Japanese Yen dropping 12% in value in 2014, the Korean Won has seen its value rise to hit a seven-year high, cutting into the company’s profits from overseas sales. Similar struggles are expected to continue this year, with the Japanese Yen and Chinese Yuan expected to continue to fall in value as both countries attempt to boost exports by cheapening its currencies.
4. Renault-Nissan Alliance
Country of Origin: France, Japan
Unit Sales (2014): 8.47 million
Number of Employees: 450,000
The French-Japanese partnership increased combined global vehicle sales by 2.5%, with higher demand for Nissan vehicles in the U.S. and Renault’s strong performance in a recovering Western Europe helping to lift 2014 global volume to a record for the alliance.
The partnership is forecast to have another strong year in 2015, as the low Euro and Japanese Yen are expected to boost profits. Renault has already seen its profits rise a stunning 86% thanks to the weakening euro while Nissan has seen global revenue increase 2.6% despite losing 2.1% in sales and continued poor performance in key markets.
3. General Motors
Country of Origin: USA
Unit Sales (2014): 9.92 million
Number of Employees: 216,000
General Motors had a record 2014, with sales up more than 2 percent from 2013’s record led by strength from North America and China.
2015 is set to be another strong year for GM and its 4 brands, as record truck demand and an overall boom in the North American market is expected to offset slowing sales in China. The American automaker is also benefiting from external market conditions, as it saw its 2015 2Q profits rise despite declining global vehicle deliveries and a 3.5 percent decline in worldwide revenue.
2. Volkswagen Group
Country of Origin: Germany
Unit Sales (2014): 10.1 million
Number of Employees: 592,586
The biggest industry news of this year came from Volkswagen, which surpassed Toyota as the world’s largest automaker in the first half of 2015, despite falling sales in the U.S. Whether the German automaker can retain the #1 title for the full year remains to be seen.
In the U.S., sales of the Volkswagen vehicles fell 10% in 2014, despite a 5.9% gain in overall industry sales. For the first six months of 2015, Volkswagen brand sales fell 2.6%, compared to a 4.4% increase for the overall industry.
However, given that the automaker claimed the top spot in China, the world’s largest vehicle market, and remains dominant in Europe, 2015 is looking to be a bright year for the company.
1. Toyota Motor
Country of Origin: Japan
Unit Sales (2014): 10.2 million
Number of Employees: 330,000
Toyota Motor surpassed the milestone of 10 million unit sales in 2014, taking the lead as the world’s largest automaker.
And although it lost out on the top spot for the first half of 2015, Volkswagen’s ascension to the top spot is not a particularly devastating blow to Toyota, which remains immensely profitable and retains strong global market share.
Riding on the back of the ever falling Yen, Toyota’s operating profit margin was 10.1%, while Volkswagen’s global operating profit margin was 6.3%. With the Yen expected to continue its fall and Toyota’s U.S. sales expected to maintain its growth (5.2% in the first half of 2015), it may be still too early to write off Toyota as the king of auto sales in 2015.