Even though an emissions-cheating scandal has rocked German car maker Volkswagen AG — expected to cost the company upward of $18 billion — the company’s sales were buoyed by China and Europe, allowing it to overtake its archrival Toyota — the no. 1 seller of cars for four consecutive years — which suffered from production stoppage during the quarter gone by.
The Japanese automaker announced Tuesday it sold 2.46 million vehicles globally in the January to March period, a 2.3 percent drop from the same period a year ago. Spokeswoman Kayo Dai told Bloomberg the slowdown was caused at least in part by the weeklong shutdown of Japanese assembly plants in February.
In contrast, Volkswagen announced on April 15 that its vehicle sales for the first quarter of 2016 increased 0.8 percent compared to a year ago, and the company delivered close to 2.51 million vehicles worldwide in the three months ending March 31. The German automaker got a big boost from sales in Western Europe and China, which together accounted for over 1.85 million vehicles sold in the quarter.
Toyota’s worldwide sales for the 12 months ending March 31 were lower by 0.7 percent on a year-on-year basis, according to data on the company’s website. It sold about 10.1 million cars globally during the year, but saw its domestic market share shrink by 3.5 percent.
Three more quarters remain for Toyota to overcome its production challenges, also affected by the recent earthquakes, which are expected to cost it the output of another 80,000 vehicles. However, since Volkswagen has its own serious troubles to deal with, in wake of the emissions scandal, the Japanese company could extend to five years its reign on top of global car sales.
Volkswagen shares were trading 2.3 percent higher on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in morning trade Tuesday, while Toyota stock closed 0.72 percent lower in Tokyo.