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Toyota trails VW as China boom set to spur global sales shake-up

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Toyota Motor Corp trailed Volkswagen AG in global sales in the first nine months, putting its four-year reign as the world's largest carmaker at risk.

[TOKYO] Toyota Motor Corp trailed Volkswagen AG in global sales in the first nine months, putting its four-year reign as the world's largest carmaker at risk.

Worldwide deliveries rose 0.4 per cent to 7.53 million vehicles in the nine months through September, Toyota said in a statement on Thursday. Volkswagen's sales climbed 2.4 per cent to about 7.61 million in the same span, according to an Oct 14 statement.

Barring a late comeback by Toyota, Volkswagen will pull ahead this year thanks largely to the diverging fortunes of Japanese and German automakers' biggest overseas markets.

While Toyota has joined the broader US auto industry in a sales slowdown, Volkswagen is benefiting from its leading position in China and a tax cut that's stoked buying since last last year.

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In China, where Volkswagen outsells Toyota by a 3-to-1 margin, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company has boosted deliveries by 11 per cent to 2.58 million units through September.

Industry wide deliveries may expand 7 per cent to reach a record 26.3 million this year, according to an estimate by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The government is looking at extending the tax cut that's set to expire at the year-end, according to Qu Guochun, an official with the industry ministry.

Toyota's US sales have slipped 2.4 per cent to 1.82 million units through September, as low gasoline prices sap demand for its redesigned Prius hybrid. After a record 2015, industry growth has slowed to just 0.5 per cent this year, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

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