Despite its ongoing diesel woes, Volkswagen beat out Toyota to become the world’s largest automaker last year. Toyota announced on Sunday that it sold 10.18 million vehicles worldwide, up 0.2 percent. Volkswagen, meanwhile, sold 10.31 million vehicles, an increase of 3.8 percent from the prior year.
VW’s biggest success came from China. As the largest seller of new vehicles in that market, the automaker moved 3.98 million vehicles off dealer lots last year, up 12.2 percent. In fact, sales are so strong that China could surpass Europe to become VW’s biggest market by the end of this year. In the U.S., however, sales slid 2.6 percent and the automaker sold just 591,100 units.
Several years ago, VW set a goal to become the world’s largest automaker by 2018. But after the company admitted to installing cheat devices on its diesel vehicles, VW said it would stop focusing so closely on volume targets.
VW’s win is a big upset, given Toyota had been the world’s largest automaker for seven of the last eight years. General Motors, which last won the sales crown in 2011, hasn’t yet reported its numbers for 2016 but is expected to slot below VW and Toyota on the totem pole. Last year, it came in third place.