Volkswagen Poised to Overtake Toyota In Sales

Volkswagen Poised to Overtake Toyota In Sales

If Q1 results are any indication, VW may overtake Toyota as the number one car manufacturer by sales in 2009, and this comes before the German automaker starts selling its new sixth-generation Golf.

Just a few weeks ago we reported that industry research firm R.L. Polk predicted  Volkswagen would overtake General Motors as the world’s second-largest automaker in 2009. While not entirely a surprise, what is shocking news is that VW may actually claim the number one spot, limiting Toyota’s run at the top to just one year.

The news comes as first quarter sales figures begin to trickle in. Volkswagen sold roughly 1.39 million vehicles during Q1 for 2009, this compares to Toyota’s forecasted figure of 1.23 million vehicles.

The worldwide economic downturn is as much to blame for Toyota’s poor fortunes, as it is to credit for VW’s good ones. Toyota’s forecast is down 47 percent from Q1 last year, while VW managed to gain market share despite an overall decrease in sales. VW’s Q1 results give the company  an 11 percent market share worldwide.

“Volkswagen has the luck of being strong in the markets that are currently growing, while Toyota is exposed to those that are collapsing,” Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, head of the Center for Automotive Research in Gelsenkirchen told Automotive News.

While Toyota has been exposed to the most troubled international markets, Volkswagen has not – due in part to its relatively small share of the U.S. market. Volkswagen can also thank strong sales in China and Brasil, as well as right at home in Germany – thanks to strong incentive programs by both VW and the German government. In Germany during Q1, car sales actually increased by 4.5 percent.

During the first quarter of 2008, VW sold just 1.57 million vehicles, as compared to Toyota’s 2.41 million, and with numbers like that it’s no wonder just a year ago VW’s claim of becoming the world’s largest automaker by 2018 seemed like a pipe-dream. A worldwide recession certainly can change things.

[Source: Automotive News]

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