And it did it in a shocking way.
We thought that after final sales had been tallied Volkswagen would emerge as the largest automaker in 2017. However, it turns out that the Renault-Nissan Alliance was actually the largest automaker in 2017 according to Automotive News Europe. Nissan had a record year of sales with 5.82 million units and Renault sold 3.76 million units. Those who are good at math will easily deduce that Renault-Nissan's sales were only 9.58 units combined, which was less than the 10.53 million unit estimates of Volkswagen.
Luckily, Renault-Nissan had a very important purchase back in 2016 of Mitsubishi Motors. Mitsubishi sold 1.03 million units in 2017, which brings the Renault-Nissan totals up to 10.61 million in light vehicle sales. Toyota took third place in 2017 with global sales of 10.2 million units. We know that Nissan has been doing extremely well in sales thanks to hot-selling crossovers like the Rogue. It seems ironic that the company was able to become the top automaker thanks to the acquisition of the slow-selling Mitsubishi brand. This was clearly Renault-Nissan's strategy.
Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says that his plan is to use scale to lower costs to $12 billion by 2022 based on a rise in sales volume to 14 million units. Renault, Nissan and a few other automakers are looking to rely on parts and platform sharing as well as shared R&D to lower costs. Clearly Ghosn's plan has already started to work with Renault-Nissan sitting pretty at the top.