Volkswagen Roars Overall While European Car Sales Keep Slowing

December 14, 2018, 2:12 PM UTC

Volkswagen is on track to hit a new annual sales record, according to the Associated Press. The company has sold 9.9 million vehicles through November, up 1.8% over the same time last year.

Last year the company claimed to sell 10.7 million vehicles, but the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance argued that Volkswagen included trucks, artificially inflating the number. Outside counts pegged Volkswagen at 10.5 million car sales, compared to 10.6 million for Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi, as well as almost 10.4 million for Toyota, according to CNN.

With the Carlos Ghosn scandal affecting all three companies in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, however, rankings next year may shift significantly.

Volkswagen has begun to shift its focus from volume records to profitability, AP reported. One reason may be changing economic conditions that could affect units sold. China, which has been an important market for the auto companies, is seeing an economic slowdown and sales in Europe have become tough.

Passenger car sales fell 8.1% across Europe last month. Volkswagen, Renault, and Fiat Chrysler all felt the drop. The reason: tougher emissions tests.

The Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test (WLTP) took force on September 1. Some manufacturers held delivery on models that hadn’t yet passed the new certification. Sales had jumped in August as people anticipated the new standards.

Volkswagen is addressing emissions standards in the long term with a shift to electric vehicles and out of internal combustion engines.

In 2015, the company found itself in a massive fraud scandal over software that faked emissions tests.