Auto Tech

Volkswagen loses global-sales crown to Toyota amid scandal

Japanese automaker reclaims the title of world's biggest automaker, while the beleaguered German carmaker reportedly mulls attempts to salvage owner loyalty through incentives.

Will financial incentives be enough to retain loyal diesel buyers? Volkswagen hopes so.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota has reclaimed the title of world's largest automaker by sales volume from Volkswagen, which is working to salvage its reputation with buyers. At the same time, the German automaker is also trying to stash away as much money as possible to deal with the ramifications of its diesel scandal.

According to Bloomberg, Volkswagen's year-to-date sales total 7.43 million vehicles, but it wasn't enough to beat Toyota's 7.49 million. This gap stands to widen in the coming months, as the current numbers only count through September, when the scandal was still in its early stages.

Volkswagen remains in hot water after confirming it installed illegal software in its cars to cheat diesel emissions testing. The company has stashed away several billion euros to deal with the fallout. In addition to fixing some 11 million vehicles worldwide, Volkswagen will also need to repair its reputation as a pillar of quality engineering.

To cut costs, Volkswagen will likely throw heavy incentives at current diesel owners. The German automaker is investigating significant discounts for owners who trade in diesel models currently affected by the scandal, according to Reuters. Not only will this serve to maintain new-car sales figures, it will cut down on the number of cars requiring fixes. Any incentive would likely only extend to owners of cars requiring costly, hardware-based solutions, as the automaker doesn't really have money to burn at the moment.

Volkswagen is also implementing several cost-cutting measures to address expenditures related to the scandal, according to Reuters. Managerial promotions are on hold next year, and the automaker has not ruled out layoffs. At the same time, Volkswagen plans to cut costs on the next-generation Golf by reusing components from the current model. The automaker has roughly $7 billion (£4.6 billion, AU$9.6 billion) earmarked for the scandal, but analysts estimate total costs in excess of 10 times that amount.

Volkswagen will publish its third-quarter financial results on Wednesday, which should give the public a better idea of exactly how the automaker plans to deal with the financial implications of the scandal.