Volkswagen plans to overtake Toyota to become world auto leader by 2018

With Toyota on the ropes, Volkswagen senses an opening.

The world’s third-biggest carmaker aims to boost group vehicle sales by nearly 60% and improve profit margins by 2018 in a bid to surpass Toyota for the title of world’s top carmaker, Automotive News reports. The ambitious goals were just approved by VW’s management board.

MORE: Volkswagen wants to be the No. 1 automaker

Worldwide, VW wants to sell more than 10 million vehicles a year by 2018. It sold 6.3 million vehicles last year, up 1.1 percentage points to make up 11.4% of the global vehicle market.

Not so fast, says Toyota. While the News says Toyota’s sales fell 12% to 7.8 million vehicles, Bloomberg is reporting from Japan today that Toyota forecast a return to annual profit and still has seen a surge in U.S. sales this quarter before its sales stoppage of eight models began.

President Akio Toyoda, 53, predicted sales of 503,000 vehicles in North America in the three months ending March 31 even as Toyota has been forced to take its top-selling models off the U.S. market. Global recalls of almost 8 million vehicles due to reports of unintended acceleration will dent demand by 100,000 vehicles and cost 100 billion yen, the company said.

“There’s a huge possibility that Toyota won’t meet this forecast,” said Koji Endo, managing director of Advanced Research Japan in Tokyo. “The recalls will damage their reputation and if they widen, there will be costs which Toyota has not yet taken into account.”

Right now, VW is in third place. The News says it may be Europe’s biggest automaker, but it still trails General Motors and Toyota.

By GABRIEL BOUYS, AFP/Getty Images

SOURCE: USA TODAY

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