2015 Volkswagen Golf R
It was in 2007 that the Volkswagen Group first made the bold prediction that it would become the world’s biggest automaker by sales volume by 2018. At the time, combined sales for all brands under its control were around half of those of all Toyota brands. Fast forward to today and VW has just racked up higher sales than Toyota for the first six months of 2015.
According to Bloomberg figures, Toyota posted global sales of 5.02 million vehicles for the first half of 2015 versus the 5.04 million of VW. Both automakers have seen their sales decline slightly this year, with Toyota’s numbers coming in 1.5 percent lower than at the same time a year ago, and VW’s coming in 0.5 percent lower. General Motors Company [NYSE:GM], which is traditionally near the top, sold 4.86 million vehicles in the first half of 2015, down 1.2 percent on last year.
In 2014, Toyota had an annual figure of 10.23 million vehicles versus the 10.14 million of VW and 9.92 million of GM. All three have suffered setbacks in the crucial Chinese market this year where sales have slowed following sharp declines in the local stock market. VW, however, was able to capitalize on rising demand back in Europe to help soften the blow.
One advantage both Toyota and GM still have over VW is a strong presence in the United States, where the volume Volkswagen brand has experienced flat sales. That may soon change, however, as VW introduces several new SUV models (SUVs are currently the most popular bodystyle) including a locally-built seven-seat model.