Toyota has overtaken Volkswagen to retake its crown as the world’s largest carmaker. But there’s cold comfort for the German: the full effects of the emissions scandal have yet to be felt, so its results aren’t actually that bad – yet.
The Japanese carmaker sold just under 7.5 million vehicles in the first nine months of 2015, taking poll position ahead of VW’s 7.43 million and General Motors’ 7.2 million.
In the first half of this year, VW overtook Toyota to become the world’s biggest carmaker for the first time (Toyota having taken the crown from GM in 2008, only losing it briefly in 2011 when the Japanese tsunami interrupted production). How far away that looks now, as it struggles to contain the fallout from the revelation it had been fiddling the emissions tests for its diesel cars in the US and Europe.
The scandal broke on September 18, so consumers may not have changed their buying decisions straight away. In September, VW’s EU sales – which also include brands like Porsche, Audi and Skoda - actually grew a healthy 8.4%.
Both Toyota and VW’s sales dipped 1.5% in the first three quarters of this year. That was mainly down to a slowdown in major emerging markets – VW’s sales fell by more than a third in Brazil, and 37.6% in sanctions-hit Russia.
So VW already had enough to be dealing with even before the scandal. Now new boss Matthias Mueller wants to recall as many as 11 million vehicles at the cost of as-yet-unknown billions of euros. And that’s before consumers decide to take their business elsewhere - and Leonardo DiCaprio sticks the knife in.