Volkswagen becomes top-selling automaker in 2016, leaves Toyota behind

Tokyo: Toyota lost its crown as the world’s top-selling automaker in 2016, company figures showed on Monday, with the Japanese giant overtaken by Volkswagen as the industry prepares for an uncertain trade environment under US President Donald Trump.

The German automaker moved back into the top spot despite being hit by a massive emissions cheating scandal that rocked its reputation. The carmaker, once a paragon of German industry, was plunged into its deepest-ever crisis after it emerged in September 2015 that it installed emissions-cheating software in millions of diesel engines worldwide.

However, the crisis seemed to have little effect on the firm’s standing with drivers as it announced this month that annual sales rose 3.8 per cent in 2016.

The results were boosted by strong performance in China which helped push total sales to 10.3 million, after slipping to 9.93 in 2015. VW group also includes the brands Audi, Porsche and Skoda.

Toyota on Monday said it sold 10.175 million vehicles worldwide last year, a 0.2 per cent increase. The annual figures come as the industry faces an uncertain outlook year with President Trump threatening punitive tariffs on imports into the United States in a bid to force them to manufacture and hire there.

Trump targeted Toyota in one his fiery tweets, criticising its ongoing project to build a new factory in Mexico and threatening it with painful tariffs. He has also pledged to review several trade deals that he says are detrimental to American workers.