Volkswagen was the world’s best-selling car manufacturer in 2016, stealing the title from Toyota despite a diesel engine emissions cheating scandal that took a dent out of the German company’s North American sales.
A Bloomberg report said VW Group (which includes subsidiary brands Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti, and Lamborghini in North America; and Seat and Skoda in Europe) sold 10.3 million vehicles worldwide last year, marking a 3.8 percent gain over 2015 and edging out Toyota’s 10.2-million-unit total for 2016.
Volkswagen’s 2016 Canadian sales barely cracked 60,000, and nearly reached 323,000 in the U.S. Canada’s total was the brand’s worst since 2012, and you have to go back to 2010 to find a year VW sold fewer cars in the U.S.
VW has nothing to blame that on but the diesel scandal, and it has China to thank for its 2016 best-seller title: sales there were up 12.2 percent in 2016 (largely because of that country’s small diesel market) and also rose about four percent in Europe.
Bloomberg suggests VW is well-placed to stay on top through 2017, citing potential difficulties for Toyota in the United States in the face of Donald Trump’s protectionist government. North America is a much bigger market for Toyota than it is for VW: Toyota Motor Corporation (which encompasses the upscale Lexus brand) sold nearly 2.5 million cars in the U.S. in 2016, and nearly 218,000 in Canada.
Volkswagen’s North American fortunes could improve in 2017 as it rolls out two new crossover models – a redesigned Tiguan and the all-new Atlas mid-size model – that will likely tap into this continent’s ever-growing love for SUVs.
VW is also putting a push on electrified vehicles in the wake of its diesel crisis; the company has said it will no longer sell diesels in the U.S., and will examine the possibility of future Canadian diesel models after the 2017 model year.