31 January, 2017
HONG KONG - Volkswagen's huge emissions scandal is still unfolding, but it hasn't stopped the German company from dethroning Toyota as the world's biggest selling automaker.
This brings Toyota's four-year spell at the top to an end - it shifted 10.175 million vehicles around the world in 2016, compared to VW's 10.31 million.
While China's sustained appetite for new cars has been a boon to many automakers, it's helped some more than others, as scandal-wracked Volkswagen nonetheless managed to wrestle the title of "world's largest automaker" from Toyota in 2016, according to Bloomberg. A changing marking in the US and China: A sales slowdown in the USA coupled with VW seeing growth in China was enough to put Toyota behind.
The milestone comes despite VW's scandal over emissions tests cheating, which sparked a global backlash and multiple lawsuits.
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The company recently agreed to pay some $22 billion in settlements and plead guilty to criminal charges in the USA over its admission that it rigged diesel vehicles with software to cheat emissions regulations. "We believe that our sales volume is just the result of our focus on making ever-better cars and providing better customer experiences", the carmaker said in a statement. But it is unlikely they will reveal a higher figure than Volkswagen or Toyota. In fact, sales are so strong that China could surpass Europe to become VW's biggest market by the end of this year.
The German automaker's sales in the mainland have been relatively unaffected by the emissions scandal because the company sells nearly no diesel cars there, notes Fortune. It held the number one title in 2011 after Toyota's production was hit by a massive quake and tsunami in north-eastern Japan.
Even so, Volkswagen's time at the top may be extended thanks to Donald Trump. Last year, it came in third place.
Toyota could face a tricky 2017 in the United States after coming under fire from Trump earlier this month for building manufacturing plants in Mexico.
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Rescue workers were not able to reach the area until the early hours of Thursday because of the poor weather conditions. Heavy snow hampered ambulances trying to reach the scene, which is deep in the Abruzzo region, popular with tourists.