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After almost a decade as the world’s best-selling group of car brands, Toyota Motor Corporation has been overtaken by Volkswagen Group as the leading auto-maker for 2016, with the German conglomerate outselling its Japanese rival by approximately 100,000 units.
The Volkswagen Group portfolio – which includes Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Porsche, Skoda, Audi, Seat and MAN and Scania trucks – recorded overall sales of 10.31 million last year, representing an increase of 3.8 per cent over its 2015 total of 9.93 million sales.
The sales figures will come as a relief for the Volkswagen Group, which is still trying to repair its image in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal which was first made public in September 2015 and affected a number of its VW, Skoda and Audi models.
The greatest number of sales came from VW Passenger Cars, which sold just under six million units – an increase of 2.8 per cent over the previous year.
This was followed by Audi which grew by 3.8 per cent to 1.87 million sales, and Skoda which saw a sizeable 6.8 per cent increase to 1.12 million units.
VW Commercial saw a big spike in sales in 2016, helped by the launch of the T6 Transporter which boosted sales by 11.4 per cent to 480,100, while strong sales of the Macan mid-size SUV saw Porsche’s global sales climb by 5.6 per cent to 237,800.
The only brand to take a fall in sales was MAN trucks which dipped 0.2 per cent to 102,200 units, while “expected” figures for Scania saw a 5.5 per cent hike to 80,800 units.
The Chinese market was responsible for the biggest hike in Volkswagen sales with a 12.2 per cent climb, followed by Central and Eastern Europe with 7.0 per cent, Western Europe with 3.4 per cent and North America with 0.8 per cent.
South America was the only region where the company slid, with sales there dropping a massive 24.6 per cent.
Toyota sales stagnated over 2016, climbing just 0.2 per cent overall.
Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller said the future for the brand was looking bright despite the significant difficulties it was currently facing.
"2016 was a very challenging year for us," he said. "We made strides in resolving and overcoming the diesel crisis and at the same time initiated a fundamental change process with ‘Together – Strategy 2025’ to get Volkswagen ready for the future of mobility.
"Nonetheless, we managed to stabilise operating business in difficult conditions: the fact that we handed over more than 10 million vehicles to customers last year bolsters the Group and its brands as we head for the future.”
Toyota sales stagnated over 2016, climbing just 0.2 per cent overall. It managed a 2.8 per cent rise in its home market with 2.23 million sales, while registering 7.94 million for the rest of the world.
The Japanese giant grew 2.1 per cent internationally, and is now the fourth biggest manufacturer in the US behind General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Ford Motor Company announced last week that it registered 6.65 million sales across its Ford and Lincoln brands, while GM is yet to release its yearly sales results.