Riding momentum in emerging economies, Volkswagen has outsold its Japanese rival Toyota to become the world's top seller of automobiles. Toyota has sold 5.02 million vehicles so far this year, shy of VW's 5.04 million.
In a watershed moment for the German auto giant, Volkswagen was able to take the top spot globally in terms of sales volume in the first half of 2015, figures showed Monday.
Until now, Toyota has defended the No. 1 spot in the race for the world's biggest automaker, a title the Tokyo-based company has held since 2012, when it overtook the US's General Motors.
But now, dragged down by a string of safety scandals and a not-so-rosy outlook in Japanese markets, the Camry and Prius maker has seen its sales volume tumble 1.5 percent, particularly in Japan, where sales fell 11.5 percent from January to June.
In 2013, Toyota announced a freeze on investment to help it cope with sluggish global demand for new cars and trucks amid oversupply. In April, it lifted that suspension and unveiled plans to build a new $1 billion (903.3 billion-euro) factory in Mexico and an additional production line in China.
Volkswagen said earlier this month that its sales in Europe and North America had been robust this year, but it noted that sales had fallen in China. Its first-half sales fell 0.5 percent over the same period last year, but it was still able to claim the title of the world's top-selling auto brand.
None of the major auto companies say they want to be No. 1 for the sake of prestige, but the renown is coveted nonetheless.
cjc/bea (AFP, AP, dpa)