By Ludwig Burger
Volkswagen reported a 4.3% rise in 2017 sales to 10.7m vehicles, staying ahead of Toyota in the race to keep the title of world’s biggest carmaker although Renault-Nissan has forecast it would go top.
Last year’s sales by the German firm, which is still dealing with the fallout from a scandal over rigged diesel emissions tests, were its highest ever, helped by strong gains in China, Europe, and South America.
Toyota said last month it expected 2017 sales to grow 2% to 10.35m units worldwide across its Toyota, Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino brands. It said it would hit 10.5m vehicles in 2018.
The Renault-Nissan alliance, which includes Mitsubishi Motors, has yet to release combined sales volume figures but Renault boss Carlos Ghosn said in July it was headed for the top spot.
In 2016, VW was No. 1 with 10.3m
sales, Toyota was second with 10.2m and Renault-Nissan was third with 9.96m.
VW said December 2017 China sales jumped 17.8% to 460,100 vehicles, while monthly sales in Europe rose 3.1%, driven by Germany. US sales were down 5.2%.
Overall, carmakers saw European sales fall 4.8% in December from the same month a year ago due in part to one less working day, according to new industry data.
VW has set aside about €25bn to cover fines, lawsuits and vehicle repairs related to the diesel scandal.
In December, European car sales fell 4.8% from the same month a year ago due in part to one less working day, with sales at all major automakers except PSA Group and BMW contracting, industry data showed.
Registrations fell to 1.14m cars last month in the EU and European Free Trade Association countries, the Brussels-based Association of European Carmakers said, from 1.19m a year earlier.
Sales by France’s PSA Group soared almost 61% in December to 170,722 vehicles as registrations of the newly-acquired Opel-Vauxhall division were not included in year-earlier records.
Demand for Peugeot and Citroen brands also grew, up 9.8% and 1.6%, respectively.
BMW sales increased 5.7%, helped by higher demand for the German carmaker’s namesake brand and its Mini models.
Official statistics released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry show total new car registrations for 2017 finished at 131,356, 10% down on 2016 (146,649).