Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Tokyo — Volkswagen Group has held on to its position as the world's top-selling vehicle maker for the fifth year in a row, although the German group was edged out again by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance in the light-duty vehicles segment.

Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi together sold 10.76-million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in 2018, according to Reuters' calculations after new data released on Wednesday. The group doesn't sell heavy trucks.

Nissan said on Wednesday it sold 5.65-million vehicles in 2018, down 2.8% on the year. Mitsubishi reported an 18% rise in sales to 1.22-million units while Renault sold 3.88-million units, up 3.2% on the year.

Volkswagen's deliveries rose 0.9% to a record 10.83-million in 2018, including its MAN and Scania heavy trucks, the German company said earlier in January. Excluding heavy trucks, it sold 10.6-million units.

Toyota retained its third spot, announcing on Wednesday that it had sold 10.59-million vehicles in 2018 including its Toyota and Lexus brands, along with minicars made by subsidiary Daihatsu and light and heavy trucks produced by its truck division Hino Motors.

Excluding Hino trucks, Toyota sold 10.39-million units in 2018. The car maker has said it expects to sell a total of 10.76-million vehicles in 2019.

Many car makers are trying to boost sales volumes to achieve economies of scale and reduce costs amid soaring investments needed to develop next-generation technologies, including self-driving cars and electric vehicles.

This has been a focus of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors group, which is looking to share more vehicle parts and consolidate production platforms to trim R&D and manufacturing costs, while raising profitability.

The alliance, which brought Mitsubishi Motors into its fold in 2016, is currently in crisis with its former chair Carlos Ghosn arrested and indicted on charges of misconduct. Nissan has also been indicted, and Renault appointed new top management last week.