Volkswagen outmatched Toyota and GM with the highest operating profit among automakers last year, though it still lags behind the two giants in terms of sales.
Volkswagen's operating profit reached US$15 billion to outpace Toyota's $11.1 billion and GM's $7.9 billion, Bloomberg reported on Monday, but Toyota led sales with 9.75 million units followed by GM with 9.29 million units and Volkswagen with 9.28 million units.
Volkswagen's profitability can be attributed to the stellar performance of its high-end brand Audi, which drove Mercedes Benz out of the No. 2 spot in the global premium sedan market for the first time last year.
BMW led the premium sedan market with its sales mostly from midsize models such as the 3-series. Audi sold more profitable large models like the A6 and moved ahead of BMW in terms of operating profit with 11 percent compared to BMW’s 10.9 percent.
Volkswagen may struggle to maintain its lead, though, as the number of newly registered cars in Germany has fallen nearly 10 percent on-year since the beginning of the year and rival Toyota is benefiting from the weak yen.