‘The comparatively tiny lone wolf that is Suzuki is doing nicely’

Mike Rutherford examines the profits of top vehicle manufacturers, and thinks the future is looking bleak for Mazda

Ever thought about how much richer the world’s top vehicle makers became last year at the expense of their humble customers? In view of the fact that Apple revelled in heinously high annual profits of $45.7billion (£35.5billion), while the greedy Industrial & Commercial Bank of China wasn’t too far behind on $41.9bn (£32.5bn), Toyota, the highest-ranked car maker, was a comparative pauper with profits of $16.9bn (£13.1bn).

It’s a tad surprising that the modest and at times frosty Renault-Nissan ‘partnership’ was the motor industry’s runner-up last year with a $9.8bn (£7.6bn) profit. Even more shocking is that the Daimler (i.e. Mercedes) empire and General Motors made near-identical profits – $9.4bn apiece.

• Most expensive cars ever sold at auction

The BMW-MINI outfit ($7.9bn) nudged out the Seoul sisterhood of Hyundai-Kia ($7.0bn), thereby demoting the troubled VW Group to seventh place with $5.9bn, which is worryingly low for a multi-marque corporation of this magnitude.

Even the single brand that is Honda enjoyed almost as much profit ($5.7bn) last year – and that’s after it blew huge sums on its long-running F1 comedy series. The top Chinese money-maker is rising star SAIC ($4.8bn), and that fact is particularly painful for freefalling Ford, whose profits plummeted to $4.6bn last year.

The new Dongfeng-Peugeot family has got off to a steady start with $3.3bn – not bad considering the financial woes on the French side a while back! And the comparatively tiny lone wolf that is Suzuki is doing nicely with a small workforce and wage bill, but a profit of $1.5bn – up more than 50 per cent on 12 months ago. Beijing Automotive Group ($1.3bn) and TATA Motors ($1.1bn) are hanging in there and surely the only way is up for this pair and their home nations, China and India.

But Mazda looks increasingly shaky to me, with a near-total reliance on internal combustion engines that are facing bans in the not-too-distant future, plus a (declining) annual profit of just $866m. Is it time for Toyota to spend a few of its billions acquiring Mazda, developing its fun/sporty side, then neatly slotting the brand in below Lexus, but above Daihatsu? Mazda is in danger because of an approach that’s too small-time and blinkered. Its thinking, R&D spend and vision needs to be bigger, better, wider – thus the need for a Toyota-funded rescue.

Do you think Mazda’s days are numbered? Let us know in the comments below...

Recommended

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'
Opinion

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'

Mike Rutherford thinks cars from Gerry McGovern and Marek Reichman are favourites to win design award
30 Aug 2020
'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'
Opinion

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'

Deputy editor John McIlroy points to outgoing Skoda boss as a key reason for the firm's success
15 Jul 2020
"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"
Opinion

"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"

Mike Rutherford recounts some significant stories that may have passed you by in recent weeks
12 Jul 2020
'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'
Kia

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own gam…
18 Apr 2020

Most Popular

Energy firms want the right to switch off electric cars charging at home
Electric cars

Energy firms want the right to switch off electric cars charging at home

New powers being sought to allow energy providers to turn off high-drain devices to manage electricity network
18 Sep 2020
Audi A3 vs Mercedes A-Class
Car group tests

Audi A3 vs Mercedes A-Class

The Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class are strong competitors in the premium hatchback market - we find out which is best
19 Sep 2020
New Rolls-Royce Ghost 2020 review
Rolls-Royce Ghost

New Rolls-Royce Ghost 2020 review

The all-new luxury Rolls-Royce Ghost saloon brings new levels of refinement
18 Sep 2020