Volkswagen overtakes Toyota to become top carmaker despite VWgate

Toyota has reported a fall in vehicle sales for the first half of 2016 following a series of production stoppages which has left it flagging behind major rival Volkswagen (VW).

VW has become the world's top-selling carmaker in the first six months of 2016 as a result despite its emissions cheating scandal.

The company recently launched a program in the US to repair or buy back polluting US diesel vehicles and pay owners up to £7,500 under a £11bn deal to settle lawsuits stemming from its scandal. 

But Toyota, which also manufactures the Lexus and Daihatsu brands, said its global sales slid 0.6 per cent in January-June to 4.992 million vehicles worldwide, down from 5.021 million in the same period last year.

Having been the world's best-selling automaker for four consecutive years through 2015, Toyota has suffered this year from a hit to Japanese production after an earthquake in April damaged a plant operated by a key supplier, halting production at many of its lines across the country for weeks.

Before that, production at domestic assembly plants ground to a halt for a week in February after an explosion at one of the automaker's steel suppliers led to a shortage of parts.

For the month of June, sales of Toyota vehicles, which include the Camry and Corolla sedans and the gasoline hybrid Prius, fell 1.1 per cent on the year to 881,000.

It has also been forced to recall 3.37 million cars worldwide this year over concerns about possible defects involving airbags and emissions control units. 

Meanwhile VW has said that it has delivered 5.116 million vehicles in the first half of 2016, representing a rise of 1.5 per cent.

VW's sales have so far not suffered too badly from its scandal after it admitted in September that it installed illegal software to mask toxic emissions on about 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.

Although the emissions scandal has tarnished its reputation and triggered a multitude of lawsuits, VW has maintained sales in part by offering incentives to buyers in the United States and other markets while it repositions its business by investing in electric cars and on-demand transport services.

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