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Black sheep VW world's top-selling carmaker

It's ironic to see scandal-plagued German carmaker Volkswagen take the global sales crown among the world's top auto producers in the first quarter of the year. Production stoppages saw Toyota drop to second place.

Difficulties in trying to come to terms with its huge emissions-cheating scam haven't kept the Volkswagen Group from being able to sell more units in the first quarter than its archrival Toyota.

The Japanese auto maker announced Tuesday its sales fell by 2.3 percent in the first three months of the year to 2.46 million vehicles worldwide. VW had announced earlier that despite its pollution scandal it was able to shift 2.51 million cars in the January-to-March period of this year, meaning it had pulled ahead of Toyota's global deliveries after boosting its sales by 0.8 percent.

Toyota attributed its temporary weakness to a one-week production stoppage at domestic assembly lines plants in February.

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A victory worth little

By contrast, Volkswagen had reported a boost in deliveries to China, with sales there going up by 6.4 percent in the first quarter. At the same time, deliveries to Western Europe rose by 3.5 percent.

First-quarter figures alone are not enough to suggest that Volkswagen might be in a position to end Toyota's streak as the world's top-selling carmaker in terms of full-year sales.

Experts are paying more attention now to auto makers' ability to comply with emission standards and achieve fuel economy, with sales achievements no longer being overrated.

Given the roughly 16 billion euros ($18 billion) that Volkswagen is setting aside

to cover the potential costs of its emissions-cheating scandal,

its Q1 sales crown looks like a hollow victory.

hg/cjc (dpa, Reuters)

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