Carlos Ghosn wants to take on VW and Toyota to be No.1

Two years ago, Carlos Ghosn said his Renault-Nissan automotive Group would be one of the top three global automakers by 2018. That prediction has come true a year early, largely due to the addition of Mitsubishi into the alliance in 2016. Now Ghosn believes the alliance could soon pass Volkswagen Group and Toyota to become the best-selling car company.

“We have been among the top three carmakers since January in sales volume, and we expect to be in the top spot by midyear although this was not our goal,” Ghosn told shareholders at Renault’s annual meeting last week.

Through the first four months, the alliance is close to the top two. According to market research company JATO Dynamics, VW Group has sold 3.32 million vehicles, Toyota 3.06 million and Renault-Nissan 3.02 million. JATO uses a combination of vehicle registrations and retail sales to arrive at its figures.

Felipe Munoz, global automotive analyst at JATO, said it was uncertain whether Renault-Nissan alliance could rise to No. 1 this year. However, he ranks Renault-Nissan ahead of VW Group and Toyota in terms of future growth, given the company’s strength in SUVs and electric vehicles, and huge potential in China and other emerging markets.

Renault-Nissan “is pointing in the right direction in many ways,” Munoz said, “They are managing their brands very well. Where Renault is weak, Nissan is strong, and vice versa.”

Barring mergers or acquisitions, Renault-Nissan could stay in the top three for some time. General Motors, now No. 4, is scaling back to focus on domestic operations though the expected sale of European brands Opel and Vauxhall to PSA Group and its withdrawal from the Indian market.

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