Volkswagen Group (VW) posted record-breaking global sales last year, up 11 percent at 9.07 million, but the ambitious German automaker continues to trail Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp.
Volkswagen, which aspires to be the world’s biggest automaker by 2018, has a fair way to go to surpass the current champion, as Toyota has forecast that last year’s sales will jump 22 percent to 9.7 million vehicles.
General Motors Co (GM), which briefly regained the crown after Toyota’s supplies were shattered by the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, has not yet forecast or released its global sales figures for last year.
Volkswagen chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn expressed confidence for the future.
“This industry remains a growth industry worldwide and in this country,” Winterkorn told reporters on the eve of the Detroit, Michigan, auto show.
“We want to outpace the industry,” he said, adding that “the VW Group developed extremely well in difficult conditions.”
However, Volkswagen sales chief executive Christian Klingler cautioned that progress could be slower this year if the situation in Europe continues to deteriorate.
“Present uncertainties will intensify in 2013,” he said, adding that “markets remain challenging, competition is getting tougher.”
The 12-brand giant’s sales jumped 34 percent in the US, 8 percent in South America and 24.5 percent in China, Volkswagen’s largest market with 2.81 million vehicles sold last year. The group hopes to sell “well in excess” of 600,000 Volkwagens and Audis in the US this year, up marginally from 596,100 last year.
Sales were stable overall in Europe despite the economic crisis, but were down 6.5 percent in Western Europe, excluding Germany, at 1.85 million.
Separately, US auto giant General Motors yesterday said that its sales in China, the world’s biggest car market, hit a record 2.84 million vehicles last year, despite the country’s slowing economy.
GM’s China sales grew 11.3 percent last year from 2011, which recorded the previous record of about 2.55 million vehicles, the company said in a statement.
GM’s sales growth outpaced China as a whole. A Chinese industry group on Friday said that China’s auto sales rose only 4.3 percent year-on-year to 19.31 million vehicles last year.
“GM remained a leader in our company’s largest market in spite of a downturn in the commercial vehicle segment,” GM China president Bob Socia said in the statement.
Last month, GM and its ventures in China sold 242,486 vehicles, rising 23.2 percent year-on-year and setting a record for the month, the company said.