Volkswagen has overtaken Toyota to become the world's top carmaker despite the German company's diesel emissions scandal.
Demand in the key US market took a double-digit dip a year ago, but the "people's car" company still managed to deliver a 3.8% global increase, buyers around the world taking delivery of 10.31 million products sold under a range of marques, from entry-level Seat to ultra-luxurious Bentley, as well as the flagship Volkswagen brand.
Volkswagen has surpassed Toyota as the world's top-selling automaker.
"The development of the USA market is set to decide if VW can stay ahead of Toyota this year", Sascha Gommel, an Analyst at Commerzbank was quoted saying in a Bloomberg report.
The company announced this milestone amid VW's emission cheating scandal, which sparked a global criticism and multiple lawsuits.
Going forward, Toyota could face trade tensions with U.S. President Donald Trump, who is pressuring foreign automakers to build vehicles in the U.S. However, the Japanese automaker plans to invest $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years.
Toyota held the global auto crown for the past four years after falling behind GM in 2011, when production was hit by a quake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. VW was plunged into its deepest-ever crisis after it emerged in September 2015 that it installed emissions-cheating software in 11 million of its diesel engines worldwide.
Toyota was also trailing Volkswagen in the first half 2015.
Volkswagen saw a 3.8% increase in sales buoyed by demand in China, its second-largest market after Europe. However, due to a slower-than-expected sales rate in China and waning Corolla sales in the United States, Toyota fell behind Volkswagen's record 10.38-million-vehicle sales for 2016. Strong sales from China were one of the key reasons for the spike in sales while only few VW's tainted diesel models were sold. Toyota lost out in 2011 following the disruption caused by the natural disaster and tsunami that hit Japan in March of that year. Last year, it came in third place.
Toyota downplayed its relinquishment of the title to VW.