When Volkswagen announced a while back that it intended to become the world’s largest automaker by 2018, it seemed like a lofty goal to many. The company wasn’t doing nearly as well back then, and the volume VW brand wasn’t aimed at the thick of the buying market. All that has changed, and rather quickly, beginning with in 2011 with the Jetta.
The United States-specific Passat is another key component of this plan. Winner of Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award, it has yet to hit its sales stride. As part of the larger world goal, U.S. sales must increase to 800,000 units a year by 2018. Jetta and Passat sales are up significantly and new figures released in 2011 show that VW is well on its way to achieving its goal.
The VW Group posted year-end sales of 8.16 million units, ahead of third place Toyota at 7.9 million. Toyota has had a difficult year, hit by the Japanese tsunami and saddled with a stale lineup.
Toyota’s problems are deeper than the tsunami though. They were losing their mojo before that, with the “unintended acceleration” woes and a ton of recalls hurting their image . With a key new product in the form of the Camry for 2012, we’ll have to see how everything shakes out. There will be no excuses then. A resurgent General Motors looks to retain its top spot position for 2011.
GM lost the title briefly to Toyota a few years back. Oh, how things change! GM hasn’t released its official figures yet, but analysts are expecting the tally to come in at about 9 million units. That number is well ahead of VW, and is thanks to a rebounding U.S auto market, Chinese sales and a globalization of the Chevrolet brand. After all, one Chevy was sold every six second somewhere around the globe. To hit number one, Volkswagen projects it will need to sell 10 million units by 2018.