IT STILL RANKS second in total global sales - barely - but Volkswagen has now surpassed Toyota in vehicle production. Volkswagen built around 4.4 million cars in the first three quarters of 2009 to Toyota's 4.0 million.
However, industry analysts IHS Global Insight said that Volkswagen's rise has been aided by Toyota's move to halve its output in the first quarter of the year from 2.1 to 1.1 million cars, in response to declining sales.
"That extremely hard brake has been keeping Toyota behind Volkswagen by quite a margin. Due to government incentives [in China and Europe], Volkswagen was not forced to decelerate so hard," IHS Global Insight Director Christoph Sturmer said.
Toyota has the capacity to build 10 million cars each year, but is aiming to make only 7.0 million in 2009 - compared to the 9.24 million it produced last year.
In China, where tax cuts and government subsidies have boosted sales, Volkswagen sold 128,000 vehicles in July alone, amounting to nearly a quarter of its global sales for that month.
"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 said.
From January to September this year, Toyota recorded 5.65 million sales globally, while Volkswagen posted 4.76 million sales.