Published: Wed, February 01, 2017
Markets | By Lucia Cruz

Volkswagen defies Dieselgate to top the world auto sales league


Volkswagen has become the world's biggest auto manufacturer, overtaking Toyota in the number of new vehicles sold in 2016 despite the damage it suffered in the diesel emissions scandal.

Toyota had been number one for the four previous years but only managed to increase global sales by 0.2 percent to 10.175 million last year. Audi, Porsche, and Skoda are some of the defining brands in Volkswagen's kitty. The sales grew 0.2 percent in 2016 but that wasn't enough to continue as the best selling carmaker in the world.

Although it has taken a decade, Volkswagen has clearly dethroned Toyota as the world's largest carmaker.

For VW, it's a milestone achievement despite the taint to its reputation from a huge scandal over cheating on emissions tests.

General Motors is to report its annual numbers next week, though it's expected to trail both VW and Toyota.

The results were boosted by strong performance in China which helped push total sales to 10.3 million, after slipping to 9.93 in 2015.

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The penalty came after VW admitted it installed software into diesel engines on almost 600,000 vehicles in the U.S. that allowed the engines to turn on pollution controls during government tests and switch them off in real-world driving.

Recently, Volkswagen agreed to pay $22 billion as settlement and plead guilty to criminal charges in the US over its admission that it cheated emission test of its diesel vehicles using a software. In 2016, VW saw its deliveries to the Chinese nation rise just over 12 percent.

"In the United States, now a sluggish growth market, with overall industry sales on par with those of 2015 and 2014, the Volkswagen Group experienced reduced sales by 2.6%, while competitors such as Daimler were able to retain their market share".

Last year General Motors (GM) was the world's third-largest car-maker.

A Volkswagen spokesperson said that 2016 was a very challenging year for the company. It last time topped the ranking in 2011 after Toyota's production was hurt by a huge quake and tsunami in north-eastern Japan. "Toyota has made investment to build a new plant in Mexico and will have limited options to appeal to Trump".

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