At the halfway mark of 2015, Volkswagen leads both Toyota and GM in the quest for the global sales crown.
To the end of June 2015, the Volkswagen Group sold a total of 5.04 million vehicles, placing it around 20,000 units ahead of the Toyota family, which managed to shift 5.02 million vehicles in the same timeframe. General Motors remained in third place with 4.86 million vehicles finding new homes.
The figures for the Volkswagen Group include its namesake Volkswagen brand, and the Audi, Porsche, Skoda and Seat brands. The number also includes Volkswagen's commercial vehicle arm, which is responsible for products like the new T6 Transporter, as well as the MAN and Scania truck marques.
Toyota's numbers include sales of Toyota, Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino branded vehicles. GM's figures account for the company's wide array of brands, stretching from Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac through to Opel, Vauxhall, Holden and a clutch of China-only marques, the most important of which is Wuling.
While the order of the podium places has changed somewhat, all three automakers are dealing with declining sales compared to this time in 2014. The Volkswagen Group is down around 30,000 units, a drop of 0.5 percent. Toyota, meanwhile, was down 1.5 percent, while GM reported that its sales had dropped by around 1.2 percent.
For the Volkswagen Group, sales rose in Western Europe (up 6.9 percent) and North America (up 6.0 percent). These increases mainly served to offset losses elsewhere, such as Russia (down 40.9 percent), South America (down 22.5 percent) and China (off 3.9 percent).
Despite stalling sales in the world's most populous nation, China remains the company's largest single market, with its tally of 1.74 million vehicles sold pretty much line-ball with the number of Volkswagen Group vehicles retailed in all of Western Europe combined.
For Toyota, overall sales in its home market have edged downwards slightly, with big decreases in the kei car market for both Toyota (down 31.3 percent to 12,935) and Daihatsu (down 13.4 percent to 331,000).
In GM's latest quarterly report, the company acknowledged that growth in North America (up 4.8 percent to 1.8 million sales) and AMEA (Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa) was offset by decreases in South America (down 21.2 percent to 335,000) and Europe (down 9.3 percent to 611,000).