Germany’s Volkswagen AG has managed to overcome Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. to secure the interim title of the world’s largest automaker in terms of sales after the first six months of the year.
If the German automaker, also the biggest in Europe, manages to hold on to the title for the full year, the company would reach this key goal a full three years ahead of the envisioned threshold. Toyota announced on Tuesday it has delivered 5.02 million vehicles during the first six months of the year, sliding behind the 5.04 million units reported earlier this month by Volkswagen. Sales dropped 1.5 percent for the Japanese company and just 0.5 percent for the German rival. VW AG took advantage of the recovering car demand in Europe where the turnaround has accelerated at its swiftest pace in more than half a decade, which managed to almost surpass the blow delivered by sliding sales in China, the group’s largest market. The goal set back in 2007 to take over the crown of world leadership is still in peril because of the softening demand in China, the world’s largest car market, triggered by the feeble economy and turmoil from the volatile stock market, as well as the increased competition by Chinese brands that made advancements in the fast rising SUV segment.
“Toyota versus Volkswagen is going to be a very close race,” commented Koji Endo, an auto analyst at Advanced Research Japan. “These companies want to make the profitability side much more important than volume.” The global auto industry, which has been putting positive figures every year since 2009 now faces sliding growth in China, a major recession in Russia and continued weakness in certain Southeast Asian and South American nations.