Toyota named top automotive manufacturer, followed by Volkswagen and GM
Toyota has been named the world’s top selling automaker in the first nine months of 2014, reporting record sales of 7.615 million vehicles, up nearly 3 percent from the previous year.
It beat long-time rivals Volkswagen and General Motors to the top spot. Volkswagen reported sales of 7.4 million vehicles from January to September, while GM came in a close third with reported sales of 7.372 million cars and trucks worldwide.
The Japanese automotive manufacturer Toyota has led the pack throughout the year; in the first half of 2014 it sold almost 5.1 million vehicles. Last year it sold a record 9.98 million and is projecting annual sales of 10.2 million this year. If achieved this will be an auto industry record.
“The car industry is a snapshot of consumer optimism,” says Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota US.
Toyota, which makes the Camry sedan, Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models, is doing well despite difficulties in its home Japanese market, where a rise in the sales tax has dampened spending overall, especially in the automotive sector.
Despite record results, Toyota has publicly played down its market leading position, saying its focus is on delivering good cars, one at a time. This is potentially due to the fact that competition is tense among the top three players, who have been close on each other's heels, competing not only in developed markets such as the U.S. and Europe, but also in emerging markets such as China and the rest of Asia.
Volkswagen, which nudged GM out of second in the first half of the year, stayed ahead of the Detroit automaker even though GM had its best third-quarter global sales since 1980, led by strong sales in China and growth in North America.
GM does not give annual sales projections, but Volkswagen has said it aims to deliver 10 million vehicles this year.
General Motors was the No. 1 selling automaker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008. GM retook the sales crown in 2011, when Toyota's production was hurt by the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
Toyota made a comeback in 2012, and kept that lead in 2013.
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.