VW’s sales rose as strong demand in China and a pickup in the key Western European market helped to offset the fallout for the group as a consequence of the Dieselgate emissions scandal that has engulfed the German car industry.
Meanwhile Toyota said it had suffered a 2.3 percent slump in first-quarter sales to 2.46 million compared with the same period in 2015, following disruptions to production earlier in the year.
VW said earlier in April that first-quarter sales had climbed 0.8 per cent to 2.51 million vehicles thanks to a 6.4 percent gain in sales in China and a 3.3 percent increase in Western Europe.
Volkswagen has had a long-standing ambition to replace Toyota as the world’s biggest carmaker by 2018 – but that was before it had to admit in September 2015 it had cheated on exhaust emissions tests on about 11 million diesel vehicles around the world.
After also topping Toyota’s sales in the first half of 2015, VW was finally pushed out of the global top spot by its Japanese rival when the full-year figures were compiled.
Toyota sold 10.15 million vehicles in 2015, Volkswagen in second with 9.93 million cars.