On the flip side, Toyota's sales increased a lesser 8% in China, to a far lesser 1.2 million vehicles total. That result was the weakest of its Japanese competitors, Honda and Nissan , which posted total sales in China of 1.25 million and 1.35 million, respectively. At a time when the U.S. sales market was peaking and Volkswagen was expanding rapidly in China, Toyota couldn't match its German competitor for global 2016 sales.
"The development of the U.S. market is set to decide if VW can stay ahead of Toyota this year," Sascha Gommel, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Commerzbank AG, told Bloomberg. "If the Chinese and European markets continue to be solid and the U.S. market weakens as I expect, VW might stay first in 2017, as Toyota has a larger exposure to North America."
Beyond that, Volkswagen is starting to accelerate the design and production of more popular SUVs to try to get a better foothold in America, its last major market catalyst, as well as hold its gains in China.
Ultimately, it appears the world has already shaken off the diesel emissions scandal, which has historically happened with other automakers' major scandals, recalls, and other debacles. If the automaker continues to dominate in the world's largest automotive market, China, and perhaps even create a foothold in the U.S., it might be tough for Toyota to reclaim its sales crown anytime soon.
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