VW Beetle Club launch 2

Quite a surprising piece of news, this, and probably one that the main actors themselves did not expect. According to Reuters, Volkswagen eclipsed Toyota as the world’s top-selling carmaker in the first quarter of 2016 as the Japanese giant grappled with a series of production stoppages.

Toyota sales declined 2.3% in the January-March period to 2.46 million cars, a spokesman said this week. VW reported earlier this month an 0.8% increase to 2.51 million vehicles in group deliveries. General Motors’ quarterly deliveries went down 2.5% to 2.36 million cars due to a slump in Latin America. The US group remains in third place.

VW leading the global sales race in the early part of the year is nothing new. In fact, Wolfsburg had been leading the sales race in the first half of 2015 before the “dieselgate” emissions scandal derailed its bid to be the No.1 carmaker. In the end, Toyota sold 10.15 million cars in 2015 to retain its status as the world’s top-selling carmaker for the fourth year running.

The report says that VW’s worldwide group deliveries have so far not taken a beating from the diesel emissions cheating scandal, with strong demand for luxury Audi and Porsche models and Czech volume brand Skoda boosting figures.

The maker of the Golf, which last week reported the biggest financial loss in its history after setting aside 16.2 billion euros (RM71.8b) to help meet costs arising from the scandal, expects 2016 deliveries on a par with last year’s 9.93 million.

Toyota’s slower sales had to do with supply issues. Already handicapped by a one-week shutdown at domestic assembly plants in February, the company said earlier this month it would suspend much of its production at plants across Japan for another week after massive earthquakes in Kyushu led to a shortage of parts. Domestic production has accounted for roughly 40% of Toyota’s global output, with nearly half of all its vehicles produced in Japan exported overseas.