How Much Revenue Automakers Generate Every Second
Since their invention, automobiles have been a driving force of the global economy.
Used by millions of people to get to work, transport goods, and travel, the modern automobile has become ubiquitous in our daily lives. So much so, that a whopping 92 million cars were produced in just 2019.
To help us understand the might of the auto industry, this infographic from Parts Geek breaks down the earnings of 19 major car companies by an interesting metric—revenue per second.
The Full List of Automakers
Below are the earnings of the 19 automakers featured in the infographic.
The Volkswagen Group claims the top spot with $290.2B in gross revenue, translating to $9,202.88 per second. Capping off the list is the world’s most valuable automaker, Tesla, which generated a relatively smaller $24.6B in gross revenue, or $780.06 per second.
|Automaker||2019 Gross Revenue ($)||2019 Gross Revenue per Second ($)|
A clear takeaway from this data is that Volkswagen and Toyota have a sizable lead over the rest of their peers. Let’s take a closer look at how these two companies operate.
The Volkswagen Group
The Volkswagen Group holds a comprehensive portfolio of brands and services, and has been the world’s largest automaker, by sales, for the past three years.
Beginning with passenger cars and motorcycles, its numerous brands reported the following results for 2019.
|Brand||Vehicle Sales||Sales Revenue* ($)||Average Revenue per Vehicle ($)|
|Audi (includes Lamborghini and Ducatti)||1,200,000||$62.4B||$52,028|
*Based on an exchange rate of 1.12 EUR/USD (Dec. 31, 2019)
Other sources of revenue were Volkswagen’s $44.5B commercial vehicle business, its $4.7B power engineering business, and lastly its $44.4B financial services division.
In total, the Volkswagen Group delivered just short of 11 million vehicles in 2019, besting its 2018 deliveries by 1.3% and setting a new record for the group. While a majority of these vehicles were produced in Europe, the group operates a global production network with a significant presence in Asia.
|Region||Number of locations||Share of total production|
The German automaker has invested billions in China, the world’s largest car market, to scale its electric vehicle (EV) production capabilities.
Toyota Motor Corporation
Toyota Motor Corporation operates a much more concentrated brand portfolio, with Toyota and Lexus being its two most prominent names. This strategy seems to be working well, as Toyota was ranked the ninth most valuable brand in 2019, and was the only automaker to crack the top ten.
A testament to Toyota’s global influence is its relatively balanced breakdown of 2019 revenues by regional market:
- North America: 30%
- Japan: 25%
- Asia: 18%
- Europe: 11.5%
- Other: 15.3%
For comparison, here is Volkswagen’s 2019 revenues by region, which leans heavily towards Europe:
- Europe (excl. Germany): 42%
- Germany: 19%
- North America: 17%
- South America: 4%
- Asia-Pacific: 17%
The Japanese automaker’s popularity in foreign regions is likely the result of its reputation for reliability and affordability. It may also explain why Toyota’s trucks are a common sight in tough environments such as conflict zones of the developing world.
Altogether, Toyota and its subsidiaries sold nearly 9 million vehicles in 2019, setting a new record for the company but just 0.1% higher than its 2018 figure. Similar to Volkswagen, a majority of Toyota’s vehicles are produced in its home region, with the remainder being built around the world.
|Region||Share of total production|
Outside of Japan, Toyota has significant production capabilities in the U.S., where it makes everything from pickup trucks to sedans. In 2016, the Toyota Camry made headlines after being ranked the most American-made car—over 75% of its parts were sourced domestically.
Alternative Revenue Sources
While automobiles represent the core business for these companies, many of them have alternative revenue sources. Honda, for example, produces motorcycles, boat engines, lawn mowers, and even personal jets.
Porsche takes a slightly different approach with its accessories and licensing subsidiary, Porsche Design. Since 2003, a variety of lifestyle goods including eyewear, smartphones, and watches have been sold under the Porsche name. Its most noteworthy project is the Porsche Design Tower Miami, a residential skyscraper which features a robotic car elevator.
Finally, electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla earns additional revenues by selling carbon credits to other automakers that fail to meet government-imposed quotas on EV sales. Since Tesla only produces EVs, it has no need for its credits and is free to sell them. In the second quarter of 2020, Tesla earned $428 million from selling carbon credits, representing 7% of its total revenues for the period.
The Road Ahead
Additional revenue streams are continuing to open up as automakers integrate new technologies into their cars.
Cadillac and Tesla, two American brands, have both announced that their self-driving capabilities will eventually become a paid subscription service. Meanwhile, Germany’s premium automakers are expanding into wireless services. BMW claims it will become the first automaker to offer 5G connectivity in its cars, while Mercedes now sells downloadable software packages to enhance a driver’s experience.
While it’s too early to say whether or not these services will have a significant impact on an automaker’s bottom line, forecasts claim this so-called “connected car market” will be worth $166 billion by 2025. To put that into perspective, that’s more than half of Volkswagen’s gross revenue in 2019, or $5,264 per second.
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Explainer: What Drives Gasoline Prices?
Gasoline prices across the U.S. have reached record-highs. Why? This graphic helps explain what factors influence the cost of gasoline.
What Drives Gasoline Prices?
Across the United States, the cost of gas has been a hot topic of conversation lately, as prices reach record-breaking highs.
The national average now sits at $5.00 per gallon, and by the end of summer, this figure could grow to $6 per gallon, according to estimates by JPMorgan.
But before we can have an understanding of what’s happening at the pump, it’s important to first know what key factors influence gasoline prices.
This graphic, using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), outlines the main components that influence gasoline prices, providing each factor’s proportional impact on price.
The Four Main Factors
According to the EIA, there are four main factors that influence the price of gas:
- Crude oil prices (54%)
- Refining costs (14%)
- Taxes (16%)
- Distribution, and marketing costs (16%)
More than half the cost of filling your tank is influenced by the price of crude oil. Meanwhile, the rest of the price at the pump is split fairly equally between refining costs, marketing and distribution, and taxes.
Let’s look at each factor in more depth.
Crude Oil Prices
The most influential factor is the cost of crude oil, which is largely dictated by international supply and demand.
Despite being the world’s largest oil producer, the U.S. remains a net importer of crude oil, with the majority coming from Canada, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. Because of America’s reliance on imports, U.S. gas prices are largely influenced by the global crude oil market.
A number of geopolitical factors can influence the crude oil market, but one of the biggest influences is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), led by Saudi Arabia.
Established in 1960, OPEC was created to combat U.S. dominance of the global oil market. OPEC sets production targets for its 13 member countries, and historically, oil prices have been linked to changes in OPEC production. Today, OPEC countries are responsible for about 60% of internationally traded petroleum.
Oil needs to be refined into gasoline before it can be used by consumers, which is why refining costs are factored into the price of gas.
The exact cost of refining varies, depending on a number of factors such as the type of crude oil used, the processing technology available at the refinery, and the gasoline requirements in specific parts of the country.
In general, refining capacity in the U.S. has not been keeping up with oil demand. Several refineries shut down throughout the pandemic, but even before COVID-19, refining capacity in the U.S. was lagging behind demand. Incredibly, there haven’t been any brand-new refining facilities built in the country since 1977.
In the U.S., taxes also play a critical role in determining the price of gas.
Across America, the average gasoline tax is $0.57 per gallon, however, the exact amount fluctuates from state to state. Here’s a look at the top five states with the highest gas taxes:
|Rank||State||Gas tax (per gallon)|
*Note: figures include both state and federal tax
States with high gas taxes usually spend the extra money on improvements to their infrastructure or local transportation. For instance, Illinois doubled its gas taxes in 2019 as part of a $45 billion infrastructure plan.
California, the state with the highest tax on gas, is expecting to see a rate increase this July, which will drive gas prices up by around three cents per gallon.
Distribution and Marketing Costs
Lastly, the costs of distribution and marketing have an impact on the price of gas.
Gasoline is typically shipped from refineries to local terminals via pipelines. From there, the gasoline is processed further to ensure it meets market requirements or local government standards.
Gas stations then distribute the final product to the consumer. The cost of running a gas station varies—some gas stations are owned and operated by brand-name refineries like Chevron, while others are smaller-scale operations owned by independent merchants.
The big-name brands run a lot of advertisements. According to Morning Consult, Chevron, BP PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp., and Royal Dutch Shell PLC aired TV advertisements in the U.S. more than 44,495 times between June 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021.
How Does the Russia-Ukraine Conflict Impact U.S. Gas Prices?
If only a fraction of America’s oil comes from Russia, why is the Russia-Ukraine conflict impacting prices in the U.S.?
Because oil is bought and sold on a global commodities market. So, when countries imposed sanctions on Russian oil, that put a squeeze on global supply, which ultimately drove up prices.
This supply shock could keep prices high for a while unless the U.S. falls into a recession, which is a growing possibility based on how recent data is trending.
Timeline: The Rise, Fall, and Return of the Hummer
GM has received over 65,000 preorders for its upcoming Hummer EV. See how this compares to the brand’s previous sales in one infographic.
Timeline: The Rise, Fall, and Return of the Hummer
The Hummer brand has a relatively short history, but its trucks are some of America’s biggest automotive icons (both figuratively and literally). Originally designed for the military, Hummers are famous for their size, off-road capability, and of course, fuel consumption.
The latter proved to be the Hummer’s Achilles’ heel. By 2007, a recession was coming, and the appetite for oversized gas guzzlers had shrunk. The Hummer brand was discontinued, and its last truck rolled off the production line in 2010.
Over a decade later, GM is reviving the Hummer as a fully-electric off-road vehicle. Preorders have surpassed 65,000 units, but how does this compare to the brand’s heyday in the 2000s?
The Hummer traces its roots to 1983, when AM General, a heavy vehicle manufacturer, received $1 billion from the Pentagon to build the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee).
The Humvee became a staple of the U.S. military, and by 1991, 72,000 had been produced. The truck was especially useful in Middle Eastern conflict zones due to its ability to transport troops and cargo over rough terrain.
If you’re wondering how this military vehicle ended up on public roads, you can thank none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger.
While filming the 1990 action-comedy, Kindergarten Cop, Arnold reportedly fell in love with a Humvee used on set. He later persuaded AM General to produce a consumer version of the truck, which arrived in 1992 under the name “Hummer”.
Apart from adding creature comforts like air conditioning, AM General made very few changes to the consumer-spec Hummer. It was notoriously crude and unsuited for city driving, but its military roots gave it plenty of character. GM saw an opportunity in expanding the brand, so in 1999, it purchased the rights to produce and market the Hummer.
Rise and Fall
GM moved rather quickly after purchasing Hummer. It renamed the truck to “H1”, and released an “H2” just a few years later.
Sales in the U.S. jumped, hitting over 35,000 in 2003 before tapering off slightly. To keep momentum going, GM rolled out the smaller and cheaper “H3” in 2005. Sales once again spiked, and the brand recorded over 71,000 sales in 2006.
Unfortunately, what goes up eventually comes down. In 2009, during GM’s bankruptcy proceedings, the Hummer brand was discontinued along with Pontiac and Saturn.
|Year||Annual U.S. Hummer Sales|
So what went wrong? For starters, the H2 was a victim of the times. It was large, expensive, and extremely thirsty for gas—attributes that don’t fare well during an economic recession.
In fact, the H2 never received an official fuel economy rating from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because it was too heavy. Regulations at the time excluded vehicles over 8,500 lbs from testing, though journalists observed an average of less than 10 mpg.
The H3 mitigated some of these issues by downsizing, and it quickly become the brand’s best selling vehicle. This success was short-lived, as the H3 alone could not sustain the brand.
Jolted to Life
In 2020, GM announced the all-electric Hummer EV. It bears a strong resemblance to the H2, carrying over iconic design elements such as the front grill with vertical slats.
Compared to the H2, this electric model is longer, wider, and heavier. Estimates suggest that it will weigh over 9,000 lbs, which according to EPA estimates, is more than double the weight of the average car. This is primarily attributed to the truck’s vast quantity of battery packs.
Power is also increased thanks to the electric drivetrain, with the “Edition 1” model boasting 1,000 horsepower from its three electric motors (a similar configuration to Tesla’s Plaid platform). Lesser models, which only have two motors, are expected to generate north of 600 horsepower.
A Promising Restart
Will battery power be the key to the Hummer’s long-term success?
So far, GM appears to have played its cards right. New trucks are outselling new cars by a ratio of 3-to-1 in the U.S., and the release of the Hummer EV is well-timed to capitalize on this trend.
The Hummer EV also sheds one of its predecessors’ biggest weaknesses—fuel consumption. With gas prices at all-time highs, can we dare to call the new Hummer “economical”?
Either way, GM is certainly enjoying the economic benefits of its decision. Over 65,000 pre-orders have been received, and production of the Hummer EV is completely sold out until 2024. The truck is being built at Factory Zero in Michigan, which is GM’s first EV-dedicated production facility.
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