Volkswagen Group has overtaken Toyota to become the world’s biggest car manufacturer – the first time in four years the German company has taken the number one spot.
Dieselgate-shamed Volkswagen produced 10.3 million cars last year, compared to Toyota’s 10.175 million.
- Revealed: Britain’s top 20 best-selling cars in 2016
- 2017 Volkswagen Golf facelift: everything you need to know
- More car news on Motoring Research
VW’s total output is split across multiple brands, including SEAT, Skoda, Audi and Porsche. The firm says its 3.8% sales boost in 2016 was buoyed by increased demand in China.
Registrations increased by more than 12% in China – where the 2015 emissions scandal hasn’t had an effect, with most models sold there powered by petrol engines.
As well as China, the company has continued to do well in markets around the world. Last year, the Volkswagen Golf was the fourth best-selling car in the UK, while it knocked the Volvo V70 off the top spot in Sweden.
Toyota saw its sales grow by a meagre 0.2% – something it’s put down to a slowdown in the US car market, but could also be attributed to declining interest in its flagship Camry saloon.
The Japanese manufacturer is shrugging off being knocked off pole position, saying it isn’t focused on ‘chasing volume’.
In a statement, Toyota said: “We believe that our sales volume is just the result of our focus on making ever-better cars and providing better customer experiences.
“Our goal is to be number one with consumers by engineering and producing ever-better cars. We are grateful to every customer who has chosen a Toyota vehicle.”
General Motors, which owns Vauxhall, Opel, Chevrolet and others, is yet to reveal its 2016 sales figures – but they’re expected to lag behind Toyota and Volkswagen. The US giant was the world’s best-selling car manufacturer for more than seven decades until Toyota overtook it in 2008.