Toyota Becomes Top Automaker – Struggling With Emissions Scandal, Volkswagen Recedes Title Within Three Months

Toyota has snatched the title of the top automaker in the world from Volkswagen.

Japanese car maker Toyota maintained its top automaker spot in global vehicle sales. After evaluating the sales for the nine months of this year, Toyota appears to have sold the most vehicles in the world. However, the race isn’t quite over yet.

According to sales figure released by Toyota Motor Corp. on Monday, the company sold 7.498 million vehicles in the first three quarters of 2015. Though this figure is impressive, Toyota reported a decline in sales as compared to the previous year. Toyota’s sales dropped marginally by about 1.5 percent in 2015 as compared to the previous year.

Toyota’s rival Volkswagen sold 7.43 million vehicles. Interestingly, the numbers are strikingly similar to last year. However, the same can’t be said about General Motors (GM). The American automaker sold about 7.2 million. The sales figures indicate a drop of 1 percent as compared to the same time period in 2014.

Toyota Becomes Top Automaker
(Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Though Toyota has been the world’s top automaker for quite some time, Volkswagen had managed to snatch the title for a brief period. The German car maker had famously claimed to have become the world’s largest automaker in August of this year. However, the euphoria was certainly short-lived, as Toyota reclaimed the title within a short span of three months, reported CNN. Interestingly, the title changing hands had nothing to do with the emissions scandal that Volkswagen is going through.

Volkswagen overtook Toyota for January-June period. However, the emissions scandal is bound to impact the company’s sales figures in the coming months, cautioned industry experts. The German carmaker had admitted that a large number of its vehicles, particularly the ones that run on diesel, were rigged to pass the emissions control tests.

The software tweaked the engine’s output only during the tests and ensured the vehicles were certified for emissions control norms. In reality, the vehicles spewed anywhere between 10 to 40 percent more harmful and polluting gases than permitted by U.S emission control norms. The levels of nitrogen oxide were intelligently capped when the vehicles were subjected to emissions tests and ensured the vehicles had their exhaust look clean. Recent reports indicate the emissions scandal may have a larger bearing than previously estimated. Volkswagen has already pulled some models out of the showroom, but the scandal happened too late in the month to have a big impact on September sales. However, the scandal is bound to have a considerable impact in the final quarter of the year.

Before the news of the scandal broke out, Volkswagen appeared unstoppable, reported Business Insider. The company reported it was entering new markets and its current customers were reportedly quite loyal.

Toyota managed to become the world’s top automaker in 2008 after it dethroned GM. Detroit-based GM had held on to the title for over seven decades, an impressive feat that may not be replicated soon. GM managed to briefly regain its title in 2011, but that was due to the Tsunami and earthquake that rocked northeastern Japan, disrupting Toyota’s production. However, once the production was back on track, Toyota managed to be the world’s top automaker for three consecutive years. Volkswagen briefly managed to dethrone the company in 2015, only to recede the title in mere three months.

It appears unlikely that Volkswagen could reclaim the title from Toyota anytime soon. The emissions scandal involved diesel vehicles, which accounts for 20 percent of Volkswagen’s U.S. sales. Reports indicate the company lost a fifth of its market value due to the aftermath. Meanwhile, Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid, Camry sedan, and Lexus luxury models, is expected to hold the title of world’s top automaker for the remainder of the year.

[Photo by Ted Aljibe / Getty Images]