After the first six months of the year, Volkswagen AG had nailed a threshold it had pursued for years – beating Japan’s Toyota and going home with the global No.1 in its pocket.
But the interim world leader could see the highly sought off prize slip away, engulfed by the recent scandal regarding the cheating on emissions testing for diesel engines. Admitting it had rigged the US results – for half a million autos – and that most likely 11 million units were affected across the globe cost the job of the chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn. And his prized possession – a crown that has been his goal throughout his reign at VW – could be next. Following years of trailing Toyota and GM in the quota of global sales, Volkswagen recently became No2 and after the first half of the year – with sales of 5.04 million vehicles – narrowly beat the Japanese competitor by around 20,000 units. Afterwards the Chinese market – the main driver of growth for the runner-up – has been impacted by declining demand and economical concerns.
But now an even more fearsome factor could make Volkswagen further retreat and allow the Japanese to reclaim the top spot without landing a single jab: the admission it had rigged 11 million autos with software designed to cheat the US air-pollution tests. This single crisis could wipe out around 400,000 sales during 2016, forecasts Morgan Stanley. “VW’s intentional, widespread effort to deceive regulators across the globe suggests a dark side to the company’s growth,” comments Karl Brauer, an analyst at auto researcher Kelley Blue Book.