Japan’s Toyota, which has led sales for the last four years, sold 10.175 million vehicles in 2016, falling slightly short of the 10.31 million sales posted by Volkswagen last week for the same period.
This accolade comes despite Volkswagen being embroiled in the emissions test cheating scandal, which led to a huge worldwide backlash and multiple lawsuits.
Volkswagen – who also owns the Audi, Porsche, and Skoda brands, saw a 3.8% rise in sales. The cause of this was thought to be heavy demand from China.
Inroads have also been made in other markets across the globe; this year also saw VW top sales charts in Sweden, the first time a Volvo has not held the top spot in 50 years.
Toyota’s sales increased by 0.2% – though a slowdown has been apparent in the company’s US market.
General Motors is set to post their annual figures next week; and is expected to lag behind both companies.
GM was the globe’s third largest car manufacturer in 2015. It did hold the top spot briefly in 2011 after Toyota’s production was affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in north-eastern Japan.