All the big cheeses at big automotive companies are male. I think that’s why we always hear talk about who is – or who is gunning to be – the world’s No. 1 automaker.

It has something to do with sales and profits, yes, but a bit more to do with testosterone. The latest “king of the hill” rhetoric emanated from the Frankfurt Auto Show, which is in full swing this week.

Volkswagen issued a statement at the show, detailing how they plan to spend 62.4 billion euros (about $84 billion) in the coming five years to boost its worldwide production.

Currently the VW group, which includes VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat brands, ranks third in the world motor vehicle production rankings. But it wants the No. 1 status, currently held by Toyota. Also ahead of VW at the moment, is No. 2 man, General Motors.

 

Yes, that same General Motors that filed for bankruptcy protection back in 2009.

“Top of the agenda for us are investments in environmentally-friendly, sustainable models and drives,” noted CEO Martin Winterkorn, in VW’s statement.

One of those sustainable models sure to drive future volume is the VW Up, shown for the first time in production trim at the show in Frankfurt. The “mini” or “city” Up is a class smaller than Golf, so we probably won’t see it here in North America, which would be a shame, because it’s looks pretty good.

And where VW is adding future production speaks volume about which world markets are expected to produce the most incremental sale growth in future years. Those markets would be China, Russia, etc., and North America and Europe not so much.

I guess being No. 1 would be a good thing for any automaker, but I sometimes wonder if people forget about the baggage that comes with being No. 1 at anything.

It doesn’t take long before the cooler kids start looking the other way, or throw rocks at you when you’re not looking, because you are now the boring establishment, and had it coming. And you can forget about having any “underdog” support you once enjoyed.

So go ahead, take your place at the top of the hill if you want to, just bring a helmet.

World ranking of automobile manufacturers, based on units produced in 2010:


  • 1) Toyota

  • 2) General Motors

  • 3) Volkswagen

  • 4) Hyundai

  • 5) Ford

  • 6) Nissan

  • 7) Honda

  • 8) Peugeot Citroen

  • 9) Suzuki

  • 10) Renault


– Organization Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles
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