The dust has hardly settled since Toyota charged past General Motors in 2007 to become the global leader in auto sales. Now Volkswagen is closing in on second-place GM.
R.L. Polk Germany estimates that the VW group will surpass GM this year — at least in terms of car and light-truck production.
In this catastrophic 2009, Polk forecasts that GM will suffer a 31 percent drop in light-vehicle output, while VW is likely to see a decline of only about 15 percent — thanks in part to its low exposure to the plunging U.S. market.
Polk predicted: "Volkswagen will therefore overtake ... GM and advance to become the new number two after Toyota."
In 2007, GM produced 8.8 million units compared to VW's 6.4 million. The gap narrowed in 2008, although the official numbers are not in yet.