CarAdvice reports that the German automaker delivered 8.16 million vehicles last year, up an admirable 14.3 percent from 2010. It was enough to beat Toyota’s figure by a sizable amount: the Japanese manufacturer turned over 7.9 million vehicles last year.
Two things can be pulled out of these numbers: on one hand, natural disasters have had predictably horrific results on Toyota’s sales numbers, and on the other hand, Volkswagen’s ambitious sales goals weren’t quite so over the top.
Toyota is the loser between the two companies, in no small part due to the March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan. Here in America, Toyota’s iconic Camry still managed to top the mid-size sales list last year despite overwhelming supply issues (at one point in late summer, Toyota had a 16 day supply of the car, one-fourth of what would be considered a prudent level), but the pain was still felt. Toyota returned to full manufacturing and physical strength this fall, by which point its competitors had already shoved their way into some of the Japanese carmaker’s void.
On the other hand, Volkswagen’s goals, set late in 2010, don’t seem so far-fetched now. The automaker had hoped to hit 10 million cars a year by 2015, and 8 million cars by 2012; it hit that intermediate goal one year early, beating it by 160,000 units last year. While it’s unclear whether or not the trajectory will continue worldwide, it’s not hard to see that the company is on a tear in the United States: Passat sales are picking up and its new Jetta is up 55 percent over the old model.
Still to come is whether or not Volkswagen will be number one and Toyota will be number two. The general attitude in the industry is no: General Motors has yet to release its final numbers, but it’s been estimated that the General sold a full nine million vehicles worldwide. In the meantime, it’s good to see that the global competition to sell good cars is firmly on.