Toyota loses top-selling automaker crown in 2016

Maxine SotoJan 31, 2017

Demand in the key USA market took a double-digit dip past year, but the "people's car" company still managed to deliver a 3.8% global increase, buyers around the world taking delivery of 10.31 million products sold under a range of marques, from entry-level Seat to ultra-luxurious Bentley, as well as the flagship Volkswagen brand. Ten years ago, then-CEO Martin Winterkorn determined that Volkswagen would take the top spot from Toyota, as Toyota had taken it from General Motors. General Motors Company [NYSE:GM], which has been the world's biggest automaker in more years than any other, is yet to announce sales for figures for 2016 but is expected to rank third overall.

Volkswagen, which owns Audi, Bentley, Porsche, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Skoda brands, recorded a 3.8 percent growth driven by strong demand for its vehicles in China despite its scandal over emissions tests cheating.

In its comparison of sales, Bloomberg noted that Toyota fell behind VW due to changes in the automakers' largest markets, the US and China.

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Watching Volkswagen and Toyota fight it out for the title of world's best-selling automaker has become a bit of a spectator sport in recent years. It is a notable achievement for the company which sold 10.3 million automobiles last year, up 3.8 percent from a year earlier.

VW group - which includes Audi, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini - sold a record 10.3 million vehicles previous year.

Even so, Volkswagen's time at the top may be extended thanks to Donald Trump. It fell back in 2011 as a result of the catastrophic natural disaster and tsunami that hurt all the Japanese automakers for months.

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"The development of the USA market is set to decide if VW can stay ahead of Toyota this year", Sascha Gommel, an analyst at Commerzbank, added.

Toyota made more than double VW's profit in the six months ending September, the latest earnings yet to be reported.

Toyota could face a tricky 2017 in the U.S. with pressure from President Donald Trump over its plans to build a plant in Mexico.

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