Volkswagen has been knocked off the top spot for global car sales by Toyota as the emissions-rigging scandal bites.
Toyota said it sold 7.5m vehicles in the first nine months of the year, beating VW’s 7.43m reported earlier this month. Both companies had a 1.5% fall in sales. General Motors (GM) of the US, in third position, sold 7.2m vehicles.
The figures include less than two weeks of sales after Volkswagen admitted its diesel cars were fitted with a software device to manipulate emissions recorded in official tests. The scandal rocked confidence in Volkswagen and has reduced its share of the European car market.
In the first half of the year, Volkswagen overtook its Japanese rival to achieve its long-held ambition to bebecome the world’s biggest carmaker. But Volkswagen is now preparing to repair 11m vehicles worldwide and has halted sales of diesel models in several markets.
Even before the scandal erupted, some analysts thought Volkswagen’s dash for global sales had made the company cumbersome and complex with more than 300 models and almost 120 factories. Falling sales in China, its largest market, left it reliant on low-growth European markets while struggling to make ground in the US.
Martin Winterkorn, the force behind Volkswagen’s global sales push, quit as chief executive last month, less than a week after the scandal exploded.
Toyota overtook GM in 2008 and has held the top spot every year except for 2011 when a tsunami in north-east Japan disrupted production and allowed GM to retake the lead. With Volkswagen in disarray, Toyota is preparing to release the first redesign in almost seven years of its top-selling Prius hatchback, promising a sportier ride and greater fuel efficiency.
This article was written by Sean Farrell, for theguardian.com on Monday 26th October 2015 11.21 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010