What the numbers say about the automotive industry: What is the best-selling brand?

The unprecedented challenges facing the automotive industry in 2021 have led to unprecedented financial results for most companies in Europe, the United States, Japan and South Korea.

That’s the first, and perhaps most surprising, finding from a detailed study of the financial reports of 19 automakers around the world.

Fewer cars were sold than before the pandemic, but profits continued to rise.

According to the financial statements of Aston Martin, BMW Group, Daimler, Ferrari, Ford, Geely Group, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai Motor Group, Isuzu, Mazda, Renault-Nissan, Stellantis, Subaru, Suzuki, Tata Group, Tesla, Toyota , and Volkswagen Group, revenue totaled $1.89 trillion.

This is a 13% increase from 2020, but a 6% decrease from 2019. Interestingly, the total number of units sold did not follow the same pattern.

In 2021, these companies sold 69.54 million vehicles, which is 2% more than in 2020 and 14% less than in 2019. This means that automakers have raised prices or reduced discounts during the year.

This bizarre trend of units sold versus profit is partly explained by the lack of new cars available due to the shortage of chips. Fewer cars available, combined with higher demand due to COVID-19 lockdowns, have driven prices higher.

Ferrari dominates the industry

Of all the brands, Ferrari continues to be by far the most profitable automaker. The operating margin fell from 21.4% in 2020 to 25.5% last year. Going by the numbers, the company earned $106,078 per unit sold in 2021.

The explanation is simple, the Italian company is not dragged down by cheap models, as in the case of other companies, and at the same time sells extremely expensive products, with an extremely important commercial addition.

Tesla was a long way off, earning $6,693 per vehicle.

The meaning of numbers

Despite the impact of the pandemic on global economies and the resulting supply chain issues for the automotive industry, these 19 companies made more money than in 2020 and 2019.

Profits from business operations (total revenue minus production costs and selling/administrative expenses) amounted to $143.97 billion in 2021.

In other words, for every $100 in sales, these companies managed to keep $7.60 in profit.

By contrast, in 2020, that figure was only $3.60 for every $100 in sales.

This likely reflects the peak of the pandemic in 2020, as in 2019 operating profit was $5.10 to $100. The increase also looks impressive when total operating profit is compared to the total number of cars sold.