January 30, 2017 – Volkswagen AG dethroned Toyota Motor Corp. last year to become the world’s best-selling automaker for the first time, propelled by surging demand in China which has been largely unaffected by the diesel-cheating scandal.
Volkswagen sold a record 10.3 million vehicles in 2016, outpacing its rival with a 3.8 per cent gain from a year earlier. Toyota’s global sales, including its Hino Motors Ltd. and Daihatsu Motor Co. units, rose 0.2 per cent to 10.2 million vehicles in 2016, the Japanese automaker said on Monday.
Taking the global sales crown marks the bittersweet culmination of an aggressive expansion that former Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn kick-started 10 years ago. While surging demand in China and the popularity of the upscale Audi and Porsche brands’ line-ups boosted worldwide deliveries, the VW marque lost market share in Europe, its second-biggest region, following revelations in 2015 that the company manipulated diesel engines to pass emissions tests.
VW group deliveries last year rose 12.2 per cent in China, where the scandal is a non-issue because the automaker sells almost no diesel vehicles there. Sales in Europe gained 4 per cent, less than the overall sector, while the crisis fallout hurt demand in the US and recessions cut sales in Russia and South America.
The increase in sales tax on small-engine vehicles is set to weigh on deliveries this year in China, Volkswagen’s biggest national market, while in Germany, its home country, the namesake VW brand has started scaling back its large leasing fleet for employees, slowing growth. The marque accounted for almost 6 million of global group deliveries last year, and it’s targeting more than 3 million car sales in China this year.