IT was a false spring for Volkswagen group who for a brief moment, topped the charts for 2015 global car sales — until it engineered its own downfall with the emissions cheating software scandal late last year.
Toyota annopunced today it sold 10.151 million vehicles in 2015 to retain its status as the world’s top-selling automaker for the fourth straight year.
Despite the fallout from the scandal, Volkswagen Group, sold 9.93m models to be second in 2015.
The German company had overtaken Toyota at the half-year stage before the “dieselgate” emissions scandal hit home.
US company General Motors rounded out the top three, shifting 9.8m vehicles.
However, Toyota – which also owns the Lexus and Hino marques, as well as a 51pc stake in Daihatsu – said sales were down on 2014’s total, edging back 0.8pc from the previous year’s 10.23m as a weaker Japanese economy hit demand in its home market.
The slowdown was expected by management and in line with forecasts made last year as company bosses predicted slower growth in Japan would put a brake on sales.
GM lost the top spot as the world’s biggest car maker to Toyota in 2008, but took it back in 2011 as the tsunami that year hit the Japanese group’s production. Toyota once again accelerated into the lead in 2012 and has held pole position ever since.
The Nissan-Renault partnership is the fourth largest car company in the world, with combined sales of 8.22m, followed by South Korea’s Hyundai with 8.01m.
Toyota’s dominance in the sector comes as Japanese media reported the company is mulling a tie-up with peer Suzuki. Linking up with the small-car specialist – which has a strong presence in India
- could help drive sales in emerging markets, where demand for more compact vehicles is strong.
Analysts speculated that such an arrangement could be modelled on Nissan and Renault’s partnership in which the companies share technology.
Both Toyota and Suzuki have denied they are considering such an arrangement.
Management at Toyota did flag the possibility of buying out Daihatsu’s other owners to take control of the company.
Separately, Fiat Chrysler reported a disappointing performance in 2015, with profit slumping 40pc to €377m (RM1.74 billion), far below market expectations of €540m. It came despite revenues rising almost a fifth to €113.2bn.
The company – which owns Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Jeep and Lancia – said it delivered 4.61m cars during the year, broadly flat on 2014′s performance.
Excluding sales from its Ferrari sports car business, which Fiat Chrysler spun off in January, revenues were €110.6bn.
The sales figure compared with 2015 sales of 9.93 million vehicles for Volkswagen and 9.8 million for General Motors.