VW races to the top of the global car market

Despite its brands being dogged by the ongoing emissions scandal, VW has edged out Toyota to become the world’s biggest carmaker in a first for the company

In spite of widespread regulatory and media anger, the emissions scandal does not seem to have dented consumer demand for VW brands

Volkswagen has come out on top in the global car industry, beating Toyota to become the world biggest car manufacturer. The results are particularly impressive, as they come at a time when the company is still dealing with the fallout of the emissions cheating scandal that began in 2015.

Last week, VW announced its global sales as 10.31 million for 2016, ending Toyota’s four-year streak as the world’s biggest carmaker. Toyota’s figure of 10.175 million vehicles sold represents a 0.2 percent increase over its 2015 sales, however it suffered from slowing sales in the US. This marks the first ever time VW has held the title.

In terms of sales, VW appears to be relatively unaffected by its ongoing emissions scandal

VW’s brands, which include Audi, Porsche, Bentley and Seat, have seen a surge of popularity in China, according to the BBC, posting a 3.8 percent increase. The Volkswagen Golf was also the most popular new car in Sweden for 2016, marking the first time a Volvo didn’t top the list.

At least in terms of sales, VW appears to be relatively unaffected by its ongoing emissions scandal. The company has admitted eight million vehicles had software installed capable of cheating emissions tests and is still in the process sorting through various fines from regulators and repairs to affected vehicles. As reported by The Guardian, six former executives at the company were recently charged in the US for their role in the alleged decade-long conspiracy, with the company agreeing to pay an additional $4.3bn penalty. VW had already agreed to pay $17.5bn in the US to settle claims from car owners and fines from regulators. The penalty is even larger than the $1.2bn fine the US placed on Toyota in 2014 for the company’s sale of cars that accelerated unintentionally.

Toyota’s dominance in the industry has been enduring. General Motors was the world’s biggest carmaker in 2011 only after Toyota’s production dramatically fell in the wake of the earthquakes and tsunamis that struck north-east Japan that year. GM is yet to release its 2016 results, but it is expected to be behind both Toyota and VW.

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