Did Renault-Nissan really outsell Volkswagen AG last year to become the world's third-largest automaker after Toyota and General Motors?
The Franco-Japanese group has not made the claim directly. But in a press release issued in early February, the automaker claimed worldwide group sales last year of 7.28 million units.
That total would put it just ahead of VW Group's worldwide sales of 7.14 million units, but still more than 1 million units behind Toyota Motor Corp., at 8.42 million, and General Motors Co.'s 8.39 million.
The French automaker is using some creative accounting to hit the higher sales number, however. Although it's entitled to consolidate Nissan, Dacia and Samsung Motors sales because it has management control of the three affiliated companies, Renault also is trying to wrap sales of Russia's AvtoVAZ into last year's global total.
That's a no-no under international accounting rules. Because Renault has just a 25 percent stake in Russia's No. 1 automaker, which produces Lada-brand vehicles, and does not have board or management control, it's not allowed to count AvtoVAZ sales as its own.
AvtoVAZ sold 570,014 light passenger vehicles last year. Taking those units away from Renault-Nissan reduces the group's total global sales in 2010 to 6,706,384 – almost 400,000 fewer than sales reported by the world's No. 3 automaker, Volkswagen.
Although it did not displace VW from its spot in the global rankings, even without Lada sales Renault-Nissan achieved a higher year-on-year volume increase (18 percent) than VW (14 percent), GM (12 percent) and Toyota (7 percent).