Volkswagen Challenges Toyota's No. 1 Ranking

Global sales surge on Germany, China stimulus, Toyota lags
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2009 12:36 PM CDT
The Volkswagen Golf is named World Car of the Year at the New York International Auto Show Thursday, April 9, 2009, in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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(Newser) – Volkswagen may have beaten Toyota in global sales in the first quarter, Reuters reports. Although VW sales declined overall, the company's market share increased to 11% with 1.39 million vehicles sold. Toyota has not released sales figures, but it estimated its first-quarter sales at 1.23 million. Volkswagen had aimed to become the top-selling automaker by 2018, but the goal looked far off in 2008, when the firm lagged Toyota by 3 million units sold.

The economic crisis has been as kind to VW as it has been hard on Toyota. Low demand and tight credit have depressed sales in the US and Japan—Toyota’s biggest markets. Meanwhile, government stimulus plans have subsidized car purchases in Germany, China, and Brazil, which account for half of all of VW’s sales.