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Despite emissions scandal, Volkswagen back on top

TOKYO: Toyota lost its crown as the world's top-selling automaker last year, company figures showed yesterday.

Volkswagen moved back into the top spot despite being hit by a massive emissions cheating scandal.

Once a paragon of German industry, Volkswagen was plunged into its deepest-ever crisis after it emerged in September 2015 that it had installed emissions-cheating software in millions of diesel engines worldwide.

But the crisis seemed to have little effect on the firm's standing with drivers as it announced this month that annual sales rose 3.8 per cent last year.

A strong performance in China helped push total sales to 10.3 million vehicles. The VW group also includes the Audi, Porsche and Skoda brands.

Yesterday, Toyota said it sold 10.175 million vehicles worldwide last year, a 0.2 per cent increase.

The Japanese automaker faces an uncertain outlook with US President Donald Trump threatening punitive tariffs on imports.

Mr Trump targeted Toyota in one his fiery tweets, criticising its project to build a factory in Mexico.

He has also pledged to review several trade deals that he says are detrimental to American workers.

Kyodo News agency reported that Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda will meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ahead of the latter's summit with Mr Trump next week.

Neither Toyota nor Japan's chief government spokesman would confirm the report. - AFP

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