VW claims global top spot in car sales
DETROIT, Michigan - Agence France-Presse
VW may grab the top sport among global auto makers for the first time. Photo by Joerg SarbachGermany’s Volkswagen sold more than 8 million vehicles worldwide in 2011, possibly enough to grab the top spot among global automakers for the first time, chairman Martin Winterkorn said on Dec. 8.
VW boosted sales by more than 1 million vehicles, or 14 percent, to 8.16 million last year, Winterkorn said on the eve of the annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
That was likely enough to put it past the champion of the previous three years, Japan’s Toyota, which found production last year hobbled by the March 11 earthquake-tsunami disaster.
But total world sales for General Motors, which held the crown for 77 year until it was snatched by Toyota in 2008, have yet to be reported.
Figures include all brands
VW sales include Volkswagens as well as the group’s Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti, and Lamborghini brands. The group has aimed at capturing the title of the world’s leading vehicle maker by sales and profitability by 2018.
VW recently bought the heavy truck builder MAN - sales of which are not included in the 2011 figures - and is in the process of taking over Porsche. It also owns a 19.9 percent share of Suzuki of Japan.
Winterkorn said he did not expect a recession this year to dampen auto sales.
Even if the prospects for Europe are not bright, he said, “We continue to build on the growth of North America and China.”
Meanwhile, General Motors said yesterday its sales in China hit a record high in 2011, despite a broader slowdown in the world’s largest vehicle market.
GM and its joint ventures in China sold around 2.55 million units last year, up more than 8 percent from the previous record of 2.35 million in 2010, the company said in a statement.
China, which overtook the U.S. to become the world’s top auto market in 2009, has become increasingly important for global players such as GM and Volkswagen.