Just over a year ago we wondered if VW could ever overtake Toyota as the world’s largest maker. That’s when VW announced its goal of becoming Numero Uno in the world by 2018, a goal we called “lofty” but acknowledged it could happen.
We sure didn’t think it would happen this fast! Here we are today, a full nine years ahead of goal, with news that Volkswagen has officially overtaken Toyota (who overtook GM) as the world’s largest automaker. Time to whip out the Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, invite the Oktoberfest girls over and throw a party!
VW Group produced 4.4 million units in the first nine months of 2009, compared with Toyota’s 4.0 million units. Much of the sales success, VW says, is due to various government “Cash for Clunkers” programs and the upsurge of VW’s Skoda brand in Germany.
Whatever brew the Germans have been using, they better keep using it because next we watch and see if VW can hang onto the lead. I’d say the odds are good, as Toyota is in the midst of refocusing on quality and excitement rather than pure volume (though it does have capacity to build 10 million vehicles per year). GM won’t be up in the 4.4 million range for some time. Ford could make a run, as it just passed GM to become the world’s third largest automaker with 3.7 million units produced.
Whatever happens, one thing is for sure: the world’s hierarchy of auto supremacy has been shaken up, with the Germans now firmly in the driver’s seat.
Can VW hold onto the title of world’s largest automaker?