STILL TOP DOG? Toyota has lost its number position as the world's largest automaker. But who has dethroned the Japanese firm? Image : AFP
TOKYO, Japan - Volkswagen is now the world's most prolific vehicle producer since it outsold Toyota through the first half of 2015.
Toyota claimed 5.02-million vehicle sales in that period, VW 5.04-million and third-placed General Motors 4.86-million.
Toyota broke GM's decades-long reign as top automaker in 2008 but lost the crown after the 2011 earthquake/tsunami disaster hammered Japanese production and disrupted parts supply chains. It took back the lead in 2012 but expects 2015 sales to slip to 10.15-million from the record 10.23-million of 2014 owing to a shaky outlook for Japan and as it re-focuses on quality after a string of safety scandals.
STRUGGLING GLOBAL MARKET
VW is now in pole position as the German automaker rides momentum in emerging economies that will likely see it take the top spot in annual global auto sales for the first time in 2015.
In April 2015 Toyota indicated the end of a freeze on building factories by unveiling plans for a R12.6-billion plant in Mexico and another production line in China. It began operating a new Thai plant in 2013 but has since then halted investment as the global car market struggled with over-supply and weak demand.
Toyota, among other major automakers, has also been struggling to recover a reputation for safety after the recall of millions of cars around the world for various problems, among them exploding crash-bags.