After briefly leading the industry in global vehicle sales this summer, Volkswagen has now lost the crown to perennial leader Toyota which looks set to remain the world’s largest automaker by sales—and likely profits, too—in 2015. Toyota said it sold 7.49 million vehicles through September, while for the same period VW reported only 7.43 million sales. Incidentally, both figures are down 1.5 percent on the automakers’ respective results from one year ago.
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Unfortunately for VW, the automaker’s emissions cheating scandal has forced it to suspend sales of several key vehicles. According to Bloomberg, these latest results include less than two weeks of VW’s stop-sale order of its diesel models affected by the scandal, so we’re likely to see the German automaker’s results impacted more harshly in the fourth quarter. It may even lead to General Motors Company [NYSE:GM], which sold 7.2 million vehicles through September, surpassing VW in global sales this year.
All three automakers face headwinds as we approach the end of the year. While an area of rapid growth for several years, demand for new cars in China has slowed and the trend is likely to stay that way for some time. To help spur sales, the government last month cut a purchase tax on small cars (those with engines smaller than 1.6 liters) from 10 percent to 5 percent. These models represent about 60 percent of new car sales in China.