Renault-Nissan Alliance Edged VW Group Out As World’s #1 Auto Manufacturer In 2017

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While Volkswagen’s seemingly endless diesel car emissions cheating scandal hasn’t managed to dent the company’s sales as much as those of us with a sense of justice would perhaps like, sales did apparently decrease enough in 2017 for the Renault-Nissan Alliance to edge VW Group out as the world’s top auto manufacturer.

In other words, the Renault-Nissan Alliance sold more light vehicles (cars, vans, SUVs, pickups, etc.) in 2017 than VW Group did.

To explain that a bit more, the sum total of Alliance sales (Nissan, Renault, & Mitsubishi) eclipsed that of the sum total of VW Group (Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Porsche, and Seat) sales.

That said, VW Group did manage to sell 10.53 million light-duty vehicles in 2017 … quite a bit more than I would like to have been the case — considering the revelations of recent years with regard to: corruption, illegally high emissions levels (which kill large numbers of people in Europe every year), and the seeming sheer unaccountability of company execs in Germany.

The news that a German court in a major city there dismissed a case to force the Volkswagen diesel cars in question — which are releasing illegally high emissions to this day — off the roads adds to that desire for accountability through lowered sales figures.

But I guess that the public just doesn’t care that much at this point. You can poison them; you can lie to them; you can show that no matter what you do, if you’re rich and you’re friends with the politicians, then you will never be held accountable; you can perform stupid experiments on humans and animals for no reason other than generating positive PR … and most people just won’t care.

I suppose that I should be clear here and say that, in this specific case, I’m especially talking about people in Germany and more broadly in the European countries where VW Group sells a large portion of its cars.

While people complain about US President Donald Trump a lot, the truth is that the man is nothing but a symptom (and a convenient lightning rod and distraction as well) — and that the underlying problems that gave rise to his presidency are found the world over, but most especially in the “Western” world.

I may well get some defensiveness from Germans reading this for saying so, but the issues in Germany relating to public indifference towards the massive wall that the modern world is now speeding into are every bit as bad as those in the US are.

The veneer is a bit less crude — the “right opinions” as slightly more “liberal,” but the indifference and the self-serving justifications (jobs, etc.) are almost identical.

If the wealthiest and most politically influential country in Europe isn’t even willing to ban from its roads diesel cars that have been shown to be releasing illegally high emissions levels, then why would poorer countries do so? If that country isn’t willing to put the long-term livability of Europe before profits and existing jobs, then who will?

In other words, if even rich Germany won’t transition away from fossil fuels (whether diesel cars or coal-fired power plants) in a timely enough way to forgo outright disaster, then why would India?

Back to the news at hand … Reuters provides specifics regarding the numbers: “Nissan Motor Co’s sales hit a record high of 5.82 million, while French automaker Renault SA has reported sales of 3.76 million. Mitsubishi’s sales came in at 1.03 million, bringing total 2017 sales for the group to around 10.61 million light vehicles … a 5% (profit) margin at Nissan and 4.3% at Mitsubishi Motors in the 6 months through October, and a 4.8% margin at Renault over January-June.

“Together, the 3 automakers beat record sales of around 10.53 million light vehicles at Volkswagen, 2016’s top seller which also includes the Audi, Skoda, Seat, and Porsche brands. Toyota Motor Corp, which held the No.2 spot in 2016, posted group sales of 10.2 million units last year, excluding its Hino Motors heavy trucks.”

So, by brand alone, it’s worth noting that Toyota was pretty much the top auto manufacturer in 2017. Rather than focus only on VW Group’s many faults in this article, it makes sense then to end things here by noting that Toyota is itself no shining exemplar (despite pioneering work in the hybrid sector). And, for that matter, neither are any of the other major auto manufacturers.

So, where does that leave us then? As noted in an earlier article that we published here at CleanTechnica: it doesn’t leave us anywhere with easy answers. But, perhaps, the best course of action for those who care about such things is to either forgo the purchases of new cars entirely or try to limit yourself to disruptive electric vehicle–focused firms.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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