Volkswagen Moving to Become World’s No. 1 Automaker

It might be a little hard to believe, but Volkswagen is positioning itself to become the world’s No. 1 automaker by 2018. What might be harder for Americans to believe is that Volkswagen is actually in a good position to achieve that goal.

Volkswagen actually has what Car and Driver writer Jens Meiners calls a “big game of risk a plan for world domination.” Meiners noted that Volkswagen was already the world’s No. 3 automaker in 2011, selling 7.41 million cars, and only Toyota and GM sold more.

Volkswagen is already the No. 1 selling brand of car in Europe, where it has been able to drive GM out of some of its historic markets, including Germany and Great Britain. VW is also pushing hard in the United States, where it has a constructed a plant capable of constructing up to 500,000 vehicles a year. VW also increased its US sales by 100,000 between 2009 and 2011.

Far More than Bugs and Minibuses

Volkswagen’s success is probably hard to swallow for Americans, who remember it as the producer of funny little cars for cheapskates and weird looking vans for hippies to drive, yet the numbers show that the auto company is definitely on a roll.

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Some numbers showing VW’s success include:

  • Sales of 2.9 million cars in Europe in 2010 despite a dismal economy.
  • Sales of 1.92 million in China in 2010.
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An image from Volkswagen’s early days the company’s PR department wishes would vanish. Adolph Hitler, Nazi officials and legendary auto designer Ferdinand Porsche inspect an early model Beetle.

That’s just two of VW’s markets and two of the company’s brands. VW also owns Bentley, Bugati, Audi, Skoda, and Porsche among other popular brands. That makes Volkswagen one of the world’s premier makers of luxury cars. That’s a rather unusual accomplishment for a company started by Adolf Hitler with the goal of manufacturing a car for the German working man.

Can Volkswagen Achieve its Goal or Not?

So can Volkswagen actually achieve its goal or not? Judging by the number of VW sedans on American roads these days, it might very well achieve domination.

What’s most interesting is how VW has achieved its success in the U.S. It has built good basic cars designed for average people to drive.

Yet all is not smooth going for Volkswagen. VW’s U.S. sales fell by 6.9% in 2013, according to The New York Times. That might indicate that the market for sedans is saturated.


Volkswagen isn’t resting on its laurels. It’s interested a new Audi Q3 crossover SUV in an attempt to beef up its luxury offerings. The company is also working to bring out a replacement for its Tiguan SUV and increase sales of its popular Golf compact.

Volkswagen might discover that global domination is harder to achieve than it thinks, yet this company shouldn’t be counted out; it survived Germany’s destruction in World War II and found a way to crack an American auto market dominated by Japanese giants like Toyota. No matter what else happens, VW will have a very bright future.