Volkswagen assembly line

Volkswagen
has repeatedly told the world that it will soon be the largest automaker in terms of global sales volume. As it stands, it may already be number two. Car Advice reports that VW sold 8.16 million units in 2011, marking the first time it has eclipsed eight million global sales.. Toyota finished 2011 with 7.9 million sales, in part because of production disruptions resulting from the March earthquake in Japan.

That's an incredible feat made all the more impressive by a 14.3-percent surge in sales compared to the auto giant's 2010 totals. Volkswagen has plenty of reason to celebrate, but it's not quite time to erect a statue in honor of the year's sales success. General Motors hasn't yet reported full-year sales, but analysts expect that the final tally could reach nine million units.

The German automaker should feel pretty good about its accomplishment, but there is more work to do if VW is to reach its lofty goal of 10 million units annually by 2018. If VW can continue to roll out waves of successful new products and global auto sales continue to climb, we're not going to bet against them.