Given Volkswagen’s extraordinary fall from grace amid the global diesel emissions scandal, it’s easy to forget that just a few months ago, it looked quite possible—likely even—that Volkswagen would lead the world in auto sales this year. Halfway through 2015, Volkswagen was ahead of Toyota in terms of worldwide sales, with 5.04 million sales for VW versus 5.02 million for Toyota, which has been the global leader for several years.
Starting back in 2007, Volkswagen set the ambitious goal of being the world’s top automaker in terms of sales by 2018. The automaker employed many strategies to try to get to the finish line, including cutting base prices for models like the Passat and Jetta, and a big push to sell quote-unquote “clean diesels.” Apparently, some within the company decided it was wise to cut corners with diesel models through the use of “defeat device” software that resulted in false emissions readings.
Martin Winterkorn, who set the 2018 sales goal when he took over as VW CEO in 2007, understandably resigned in the wake of the scandal. Now, with Volkswagen forced to recall millions of diesel automobiles around the globe, and with its reputation reeling, the idea that the automaker could be the worldwide leader in sales is laughable.
Indeed, third-quarter sales results have just been posted, and Toyota has retaken the lead. Through the first nine months of 2015, Toyota sold 7.498 million vehicles, compared to 7.43 million for VW, according to The Detroit Bureau. Considering that VW has halted diesel sales and won’t even begin to fix the recall problems until next year, it’s a safe bet that the automaker won’t be duking it out for the global sales title anytime soon.
The other bit of bad—if unsurprising—news for Volkswagen is that prices for those used diesels tarred in the emissions scandals just keep on falling. In the immediate aftermath of the diesel software revelation, consumer trust ratings for VW tanked, and prices for both new and used models fell.
Automotive News is reporting that wholesale auction prices of used diesel VWs have declined week after week since the scandal hit. As of October 12, for instance, used Jetta TDI (diesel) prices were down 7.9% compared to pre-scandal days, while October 19 prices were down 13.8%, according to Black Book data. The numbers from Kelley Blue Book show a similar trend, with used VW diesel prices falling 13% within two weeks of the emissions scandal, decreasing to a difference of 16% after that. Prices for used VWs powered by traditional gas have inched down “only” by 2.9% over the same time span.
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