Now that the title of world's largest maker has become a clear and eager battle, we can expect more regular updates on the progress of the combatants. Bloomberg reports that Toyota snagged the #1 crown in Q1, taking it away from General Motors with 2.49 million units sold across its five brands compared to 2.28 million for GM. Volkswagen was just another tenth down at 2.19 million units sold.

What all three might appreciate even more than the crown – except for VW, who is monomaniacal about the No. 1 tag – is that sales volumes and profitability are up, at least in America. Toyota's sales rebound from the catastrophes of last year (and indeed, the last few years) is being underlined by its performance here, where the Prius Plug-In is the third-best seller against a background of the nation's best car sales market in five years. Even with double its usual fleet sales in Q1, Toyota expects this financial year's profits to double.

The year isn't over yet and it remains close, but for now it looks like there'll be good news for everyone. Well, until 2016, when Volkswagen is predicted to vanquish all challengers at the top of the podium, two years ahead of its own ridiculously ambitious schedule.

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