VW contests GM’s title of world’s largest automaker in 2011 image

Volkswagen AG is disputing GM’s No. 1 sales crows as the German automaker feels it would be the top-seller last year if sales of all its affiliates were included.

VW’s figures don’t include sales from truckmakers MAN and Scania, which will be added in a few weeks, a VW spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. GM said it sold 9.03 million vehicles worldwide last year, 1 million units ahea of Volkswagen Group, which reported 8.16 million sales. The truckmakers might add 200,000 vehicles to VW’s sales total. Still, that wouldn’t be enough to surpass GM.

But VW also argues that GM inflates its numbers by adding sales from its China joint ventures with SAIC Motor Corp. and Wuling Motors Co. Some analysts exclude Wuling sales from GM’s total because the U.S. automaker doesn’t have a controlling stake in its partner. Wuling sold over 1 million light trucks in 2011.

Toyota Motor Corporation, which took the sales crown from GM in 2008, hasn’t yet reported full-year results but it estimates its 2011 volume will be down 6 percent to about 7.9 million units because of the natural disasters in Japan and Thailand. Toyota estimates that 2012 sales will increase to about 8.5 million.