By Kyle Hyatt/CNET
The Volkswagen group has held the title of world's largest automobile manufacturer for a couple of years, but it would seem that with all of its recent diesel-related troubles of late, it hasn't had time to watch the throne. Meet the world's new largest automaker: Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
How did this happen? Well, the credit for this big "W" goes to perhaps the most underdog car brand in the world right now: Mitsubishi. We'll explain. Renault and Nissan each sell a lot of cars on their own, 3.76 million and 5.82 million worldwide in 2017. That's pretty impressive but nowhere near enough to best the mighty Volkswagen group which includes Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, Skoda and Seat which together sold 10.53 million cars in 2017.
This is where Mitsubishi, aka the Rudy Ruettiger of car companies, steps in at the last minute and says, "Hold my beer, watch this." Somehow, against all the odds, and with one of the least exciting product lineups (in the US, anyway) of any major automotive manufacturer, Mitsubishi managed to sell 1.03 million cars in 2017, pushing the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance's total sales to 10.61 million, thus securing the crown for RNM boss Carlos Ghosn.
Nissan's acquisition of a controlling interest in Mitsubishi, aka the Seabiscuit of automotive manufacturers, seemed more than a little weird in 2016, but the partnership has borne fruit already. By pooling the respective parts bins, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi has been able to drive down costs and boost sales, something it hopes it can continue with a goal of 14 million vehicles sold and $12 billion saved by 2022.
In all seriousness, we congratulate Mr. Ghosn on this significant achievement and implore him to just once buck the trend of his infinite frugality, and celebrate this win by offering America a super entertaining car. We humbly suggest that the Alpine A310 would do rather nicely. Please and thank you.