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Volkswagen AG has overtaken Toyota as the world’s highest-selling automaker in terms of volumes this year, but there are many cracks in this pretty painting when looked at closely.

Firstly, Volkswagen has always pushed for more volumes, while Toyota had halted building new manufacturing facilities to focus on profitability, and improving service quality, and workers’ skills. The reason why Volkswagen overtook Toyota is because the latter’s volumes declined by a bigger percentage than that for Volkswagen. So it’s not really growth, but a larger de-growth for Toyota that pushed Volkswagen to the first position in global volume sales.

We have a $46 price estimate for Volkswagen AG, which is above the current market price. The stock has declined a considerable 27% in the last three months alone.

Secondly, Volkswagen has let its game somewhat slip in the U.S and China — the world’s two largest automotive markets.

Through the first half of the year, Volkswagen struggled to extract growth from China, its single largest market, recording a 4% decline in vehicle deliveries in the country. The German giant’s strongest premium brand, and the highest-selling luxury brand in China–Audi, has also had a weak showing in the country, selling 0.3% fewer vehicles than the year ago period through July, with a 12.5% fall in volumes last month alone.

Amid the normalization of the Chinese automotive market, which declined 3.4% in June, and a further 6.6% last month, growth for Volkswagen might be hard to come by. More bad news surfaced for Volkswagen when explosions that rocked chemical warehouse facilities in the Chinese port city of Tianjin this month damaged around 2,748 of its imported vehicles.

On the other hand, Volkswagen has somewhat failed to take advantage of the strong SUV demand and the favorable dollar vs euro conversion in the U.S. The German conglomerate has seen deliveries rise in the last quarter in the U.S., with deliveries up 2.4% year-over-year through June, but this growth still lags its competitors. Toyota and GM have grown volumes by 5% and 4%, respectively, through July.

(Forbes)