Volkswagen has overtaken Toyota as the world's largest auto manufacturer? That's hard to imagine here in the U.S., where Volkswagen is a weak player, but the German auto company has quietly bypassed its Japanese competitor, producing 4.4 million vehicles to date this year, compared to Toyota's 4 million. In part that's because VW took over Porsche and Toyota reduced production earlier this year. But VW also got a boost in Europe, where it is the dominant player, from state-backed cash-for-clunkers programs, and VW's luxury Audi brand continues to grow in the U.S. despite the lousy economy. (Last month, Audi sold 7,358 units, just a fraction off an all-time U.S. monthly sales record for the brand a year earlier.) The Wolfsburg company also has numbers on its side: VW is the largest car company in China, where it's had a presence since its first joint venture in 1984, and is also strong in Brazil. Not bad for a company whose signature brand once urged buyers to "Think small" and choose it over models offered by giants like General Motors—the world's largest auto company just three years ago, which has fallen to No. 3.
—Posted by Noreen O'Leary