Volkswagen and its subsidiaries, including Audi, have been in hot pursuit of an industry-topping sales rank for the past several years, but the widespread economic downturn is shaping up to put those plans on hold.

It may take Audi a full year longer than expected to reach its sales goal of 1.5 million cars annually, Audi's sales chief Peter Schwarzenbauer told Bloomberg. The 1.5 million-vehicle target is currently penciled in for 2015, but with sales not continuing the upward trend seen in recent years, it will take at least a year, and possibly two, longer than hoped.

“Whether it will now take one or two years longer doesn’t make much of a difference,” said Schwarzenbauer.

At the same time, however, the slumping sales in markets like the U.S. have been countered to a small degree by rises in the Asia-Pacific and European markets. The overall result is a 6.1% slump in overall May sales against 2008. For the entire 2008 year, Audi saw record sales, topping 1 million vehicles sold for the first time ever.

But the underlying story - and one that supports Audi and VW's planned rise to the top - is a rise in market share, which Audi has continued to benefit from in Europe, Asia and the U.S., even as total vehicle sales figures fall. When sales volumes finally turn back up, that increase in market share could lead directly to the volume the company is seeking.