Years of fighting for the top spot comes to an end.
The long-running yearly battle for the coveted title of the world's largest automaker is coming to an end. Germany's Automobilwoche has confirmed with VW's head of passenger cars, Christian Vollmer, that the duel against Toyota is over. "Today we no longer have the goal of being the largest manufacturer in the world in terms of volume," he said. This new approach will not change in the years ahead.
Volkswagen last claimed the honor in 2019. That was quite an accomplishment just seven years since the Dieselgate scandal, but Toyota managed to once again overtake VW last year for the crown. For years, VW sought the crown and it finally took it in 2016 and managed to hold on to it.
But the automotive landscape is changing rapidly and VW has made the strategic decision that being the biggest is no longer necessary. In fact, it may even have some advantages. Instead of focusing on beating a certain rival, VW can better concentrate internally as it pushes itself towards an all-electric future. Already it's way ahead of Toyota in this field, thanks to the successful launches of several EVs from across its brands, including the VW ID.4, Porsche Taycan, and Audi e-tron.
Toyota currently lacks a battery electric vehicle, though a production version of the recently revealed bZ4X concept is on the way along with other models that'll share its E-TNGA architecture. The Japanese carmaker also promised game-changing solid state batteries by the end of this year.
Last year, Toyota sold a total of 9.53 million vehicles while VW finished at 9.31 million. However, Toyota's total sales dropped by 11.3 percent compared to the year prior. VW experienced a 15.2 percent decrease. It was the first time both automakers saw a year-on-year sales plunge in five years, thanks to the global pandemic.
With VW out of the running, Toyota is expected to remain the biggest automaker in terms of sheer volume for the foreseeable future. This title is not to be mistaken with the world's most valuable automaker. Tesla owns that one by a significant margin over Toyota, around $700 billion versus $207.5 billion. VW is currently worth around $97 billion.