These are the top 10 automotive manufacturers in the world

According to Forbes, US$32.7 trillion in revenue created US$2.15 trillion in profits for the 500 largest companies last year. The 21 leading automobile manufacturers account for 7 per cent of that revenue.

On the Forbes Global 500 list, automakers account for 13 of the leading 100 companies in the world, including two of the top 10. But both of those two top 10 finishers – along with 16 other automakers – dropped in rank on Forbes Global 500.

Forbes ranks the world’s largest companies by revenue in the 2018 calendar year. There are limiting factors. For example, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is listed inside the Exor Group, a holding company that ranks 24th overall and includes not only FCA but also Ferrari, The Economist and the famed Juventus football club.

Forbes separates Hyundai and Kia — we’ve joined the duo given the fact that the duo operates as the Hyundai Motor Group. Plus, a concentration on automakers alone also causes numerous auto-related companies (such as Continental, Magna, Aisin and Michelin) to fall by the wayside.

With revenue figures from Forbes, Canadian auto sales figures from Global Automakers of Canada, and other sales figures sourced from manufacturers, these were the 10 biggest automobile companies in 2018.

10. Nissan

2019 Nissan Rogue

2018 ended with the kind of serious CEO trouble few companies have ever encountered, especially when operating in a particularly challenging era. Carlos Ghosn’s November arrest brought more trouble to Nissan, where the company’s sales (US$104.4 billion, down 3 per cent) and profit (US$2.88 billion, down 57 percent) were in sharp decline. Nissan ranks 66th overall in the Forbes Global 500. In Canada, Nissan and Infiniti owned 7.5 percent of the Canadian market in 2018 with 149,117 sales, a 2-per-cent decrease. Nissan’s Alliance partner, Renault, sits at No. 143 on the Forbes Global 500 with US$67.8 billion in sales in 2018.

9. BMW

On US$115 billion in sales, Munich-based BMW ranks 53rd overall among Forbes Global 500. Some 2.49 million BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce vehicles were sold in 2018, an eighth consecutive year of record sales for the BMW Group that nevertheless resulted in a 14-per-cent decline in profit to US$8.4 billion. BMW and Mini combined for a 1-per-cent Canadian sales increase in 2018 to 45,978. BMW’s X-branded utility vehicles accounted for more than half of that total. BMW Canada sales 2018 was its 28th consecutive year of sales growth.


Its cars aren’t sold in North America, but China’s SAIC Motor is the 39th-ranked company in the world according to Forbes Global 500. 2018 revenue grew 6 per cent to US$136.4 billion; profits climbed 7 percent to US$5.44 billion. SAIC is now the owner of the once staunchly British MG brand – remember the Midget and the MGB? – but also operates the Roewe brand and grew to prominence with Volkswagen and GM partnerships. SAIC reported 7.05 million vehicle sales in 2018 and owns nearly one-quarter of the Chinese market.

7. Honda

2018 Honda Civic Si Sedan

Although not entirely against strategic partnerships and the odd alliance here and there, Honda largely goes it alone as Forbes’ 34th-ranked company overall. Honda’s 2018 revenue totalled US$143.3 billion; profit was down 42 per cent to US$5.5 billion. Last year, 4 per cent of the roughly 5 million vehicles sold by Honda globally found homes in Canada. Honda remains a major producer of automobiles in Canada, building the CR-V and Civic in Alliston, Ontario. Those two vehicles accounted for nearly two-thirds of the 195,379 total Honda/Acura sales in Canada in 2018.

6. Hyundai Motor Group

2020 Hyundai Palisade

On the Forbes list, Hyundai ranks 94th overall with US$88 billion in sales and US$1.37 billion in 2018 profit. The latter was a 62-per-cent drop from 2017. Separately, Kia is 227th on the list with US$49 billion in revenue and US$1.1 billion in profit; the latter’s a 23-per-cent uptick. Combined, Hyundai and Kia had hoped to sell 7.55 million vehicles in 2018 – the group sold 7.399 million instead. Rapid growth over the last two decades in a wide variety of global markets has finally resulted in a more challenging phase for Hyundai and Kia. In Canada, as an example, Hyundai sales fell to an 8-year low in 2018. Combined, the pair, along with Hyundai’s Genesis offshoot, produced 202,289 Canadian sales last year.

5. General Motors

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD

General Motors ranks 32nd overall on the Forbes Global 500 list with US$147 billion in revenue in 2018 and US$8 billion in profit. In its home market, General Motors sells more vehicles than any other automaker. Globally, GM sales in 2018 tumbled 13 percent to 8.38 million. The global decrease was caused by downturns in GM’s core geographic regions: North America, Europe, China and everywhere else. Locally, GM Canada sales fell 4 per cent to 288,310 in 2018, second only to Ford.

4. Ford

The Ford Motor Company is Forbes Global 500’s 30th-biggest company with US$160.3 billion in sales, although 2018 profit fell by more than half to US$3.68 billion. Globally, Ford sold just under 6 million vehicles in 2018, the first time in six years Ford failed to top the 6-million-unit mark. In Canada, Ford is both the best-selling brand and the maker of the best-selling vehicle line: the F-Series pickup truck. Company-wide, Ford Canada sales slipped 3 per cent to 297,902 in 2018. About 49 per cent of those sales were F-Series pickups.

3. Daimler

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS

When you hear Daimler – the 18th-ranked company in the world with US$197.5 billion in revenue and US$8.56 billion in profit – you just think Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz sold more premium-brand vehicles than any other upmarket auto brand in 2018. The automaker sold more than 2.3 million vehicles last year, more than at any point in the company’s illustrious history. In fact, Mercedes-Benz has grown its global sales in eight consecutive years. As Canada’s top-selling premium brand, Mercedes-Benz sold 42,875 vehicles in 2018, plus 345 Smart Fortwos and 6,538 commercial vans.

2. Toyota

2018 Toyota Tacoma

Forbes says Toyota’s US$272.6 billion in sales positions the automaker as the 10th-largest company in the world and the second-largest automaker. On US$272.6 billion in revenue in 2018 Toyota’s profit slipped 25 per cent to US$16.98 billion. Toyota’s home-market dominance and its power-player status in North America, along with meaningful success in virtually every other market, produced 8.9 million total sales in 2018, including 1.3 million vehicle sales in China. Toyota is on track for record Canadian auto sales in 2019 after growing 3 per cent to 231,646 sales in 2018.

1. Volkswagen

2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Ranked ninth overall, Volkswagen’s empire of automobile brands produced US$278.3 billion in sales in 2018 and US$14.32 billion in profit. The Volkswagen Group delivered 10.83 million vehicles last year. Although Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal rocked the company in North America in 2015, the global impact was smaller in scale. Moreover, Volkswagen has benefited more recently in North America due to the launch of successful SUVs: the second-generation Tiguan and first-gen Atlas. Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche combined for 118,022 sales in Canada last year 113,890, a 4-per-cent year-over-year increase.

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