‘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

'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'
Truck
Opinion

'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'

Mike Rutherford proposes some alternative options to help streamline British imports and exports
23 Jan 2021
'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'
Opinion

'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'

Mike Rutherford highlights his positive car industry stories of 2020
4 Jan 2021
'Citroen has changed the game and changed the lives of countless consumers'
Opinion

'Citroen has changed the game and changed the lives of countless consumers'

Mike Rutherford thinks the quirky new Citroen Ami is a true game-changing car
13 Dec 2020
'Power outages do nothing to inspire confidence in would-be EV buyers'
Opinion

'Power outages do nothing to inspire confidence in would-be EV buyers'

Mike Rutherford thinks the switch to an all-electric UK car market hasn't been thought through
29 Nov 2020

Most Popular

Euro 7 standards: EU considers lifetime surveillance of every new car
UK Motorway
News

Euro 7 standards: EU considers lifetime surveillance of every new car

Cars could feed data to the EU every second they are being driven; rules could also force hybrids into EV mode, while MoT test results could be affect…
5 Mar 2021
UK-based Arrival reveals electric panel van with modular battery system
Arrival electric van
News

UK-based Arrival reveals electric panel van with modular battery system

Arrival’s electric van will hit UK roads this summer, with a modular battery pack and maximum payload of almost two tonnes
5 Mar 2021
Volkswagen lays out new plans for electrified future
VW ID
News

Volkswagen lays out new plans for electrified future

Volkswagen has revealed plans for its current lineup along with its range of ID-branded electric cars
5 Mar 2021