While Toyota and General Motors continue to duke it out for first place among the world's largest automakers, the lower rungs have been equally hotly contested. It came as a shock to many that Hyundai-Kia had surpassed Honda to take the Number 5 spot, but if you think the battle is being waged purely between the Far East and North America, don't discount Europe for long. The continent's largest auto group, Volkswagen, has claimed its place on the podium as the world's third largest automaker, beating out Ford in the first half of this fiscal year.

The numbers, of course, are based on sales worldwide, and they could very well change by the end of the year. Although Ford's own namesake brand surely accounts for the bulk of its sales, the FoMoCo multi-brand conglomerate that once included the Premier Auto Group has dissipated of late, while VW's numerous subsidiaries – including Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Seat, Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti – continue to thrive. All the more impressive, then, that a tiny company like Porsche is on the verge of seizing it all.

[Source: Volkswagen]

PRESS RELEASE

VOLKSWAGEN OVERTAKES FORD

Volkswagen Group in the fast lane: Wolfsburg automaker now holds third place in global vehicle sales ranking

WOLFSBURG, Germany - The Volkswagen Group has taken its place among the world's top three automakers thanks to the Wolfsburg-based company's outstanding delivery figures in the first half of 2008. Rival Ford had to settle for fourth position.

"We are delighted that the Volkswagen Group has made it to the global automobile industry's top three for the first time. This shows that we are on the right track with our ever-stronger international presence and, above all, our product program. We will systematically push ahead with our growth course even in the present difficult market environment," Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, commented.

With 3.31 million vehicles delivered in the first half of 2008, the Volkswagen Group increased deliveries in the first six months of this year by 7.2 percent, moving up to third place in the global vehicle sales ranking and overtaking its rival Ford, which announced vehicle sales of 3.22 million for this period.