Automotive news Europe reports that Volkswagen may have overtaken Toyota to become the world’s top-selling carmaker in the first quarter of 2009, thanks to government incentives that fuelled demand in VW’s major markets.
Although overall VW deliveries to customers fell 11 percent to about 1.39 million vehicles, the group increased its share of the global passenger car market by 130 basis points to 11.0 percent.
“To gain market share during a crisis is certainly remarkable,” JATO Dynamics analyst Frank Brautlecht said.
Toyota has given no forecast for retail sales, but its latest estimate for shipments for the 2009 first quarter is 1.23 million vehicles, down 47 percent from a year earlier.
“Volkswagen has the luck of being strong in the markets that are currently growing, while Toyota is exposed to those that are collapsing,” said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, head of the Center for Automotive Research in Gelsenkirchen, adding the quarter’s results would be “close.”
Volkswagen with its nine brands including Audi, Skoda, Seat and truckmaker Scania — aimed to surpass Toyota and General Motors as the world’s No.1 seller by 2018. The target was met with heavy skepticism since VW sold just 6.3 million vehicles to Toyota’s 9 million in 2008. But a deepening recession and credit crisis have crippled demand in Toyota’s top markets, with U.S. sales falling 38 percent and Japan sliding 24 percent in January to March.
Market researcher R.L. Polk forecast that VW, which is majority owned by Porsche, will exceed GM’s volumes this year after passing Ford in 2008.