Volkswagen has overtaken Toyota to become the largest car maker in the world by sales volume
31 January 2017

Volkswagen has ended Toyota’s four-year stint as the world’s largest car maker by sales volume.

The German firm sold 10.3 million vehicles in 2016, putting it ahead of the 10.2m from Toyota. Volkswagen recorded a 3.85 sales rise despite ongoing legal claims in the USA over the dieselgate emissions scandal.

Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller said: "The race for size is not an end in itself. The fact we delivered more than 10 million cars worldwide in 2016 gives us stability. Our present vehicles success is the basis for our intensified efforts with future technologies such as e-mobility, autonomous driving and digitalisation."

Felipe Munoz, Global Automotive Analyst for JATO Dynamics, said: "The emissions issue was an enormous challenge for VW Group. Despite, the reputational issues it brought about, the German car maker was in a strong position when the scandal hit as a result of its strong sales volumes. By leading two of the three largest car markets, Europe and China, VW Group has been able to weather the storm while simultaneously improving its product offering more quickly than its competitors."

There are other reasons why VW has moved ahead of Toyota, as Munoz pointed out: "The other major reason why VW Group is today the biggest manufacturer globally is the gap between the perception of consumers and the reality. Despite the reputational problems, excellent quality standards continue to win over consumers. This has been particularly true for the Audi and Porsche brands."

Munoz also cites China as a major influence on VW’s success: "The Chinese market has remained largely untouched by the scandal with its sales continuing to grow to offset significant declines in Brazil, the USA and Russia. Similarly, the recovery of the European car market enabled VW Group to hold on to the top spot in terms of volume, despite the fact that its market share suffered a small decline."

Looking further ahead, Munoz is confident VW Group will retain its lead over Toyota: "We expect that it will be more positive for VW Group as the Brazilian and Russian markets stabilise and we expect volumes in the US to grow with the launch of models that are expected to appeal to American tastes. On a shorter-term basis, we expect the company to be well positioned to take advantage of the boom in the SUV segment thanks to the launches of the new Tiguan, Seat Ateca and Skoda Kodiaq as the company looks to recover further."

Toyota says it expects its sale volume in 2017 to remain constant at 10.2 million due to the US market reaching peak demand.

Alisdair Suttie

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Golf

Just how good is the mighty Volkswagen Golf? The seventh generation of Europe's best selling car has been facelifted to keep its nose ahead of its rivals

Join the debate

Comments
6

31 January 2017
Volkswagen bosses must be thanking their lucky stars they did not flog dirty diesels on China. I would like to say congratulations to the VW for achieving their sales goal two years ahead of their target but the shady methods they used to take the lead over their Japanese rival make that a no-no.

31 January 2017
fadyady wrote:

Volkswagen bosses must be thanking their lucky stars they did not flog dirty diesels on China.

Judging by the smog that affects large Chinese cities I wouldn't have thought they were that bothered...

31 January 2017
Is this VW or VW group, if so Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, skoda and VW beating Toyota, Lexus, scion? And daihatsu hardly seems surprising with such a large range of cars.

31 January 2017
Just goes to show how many generic people there are in the world

1 February 2017
WiseOldElf wrote:

Just goes to show how many generic people there are in the world

Yea everyone has Bentley, Porsche, R8, Polo, A3, Lambo etc

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

1 February 2017
In terms of money the difference must be huge.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK