The diesel emission scandal is likely to hammer Volkswagen to come, the maker facing a new federal lawsuit and at least 450 civil cases filed by owners – but the impact is already being felt by an automaker that entered 2015 literally on top of the world.
VW today revealed it sold 9.93 million vehicles through its varied brand portfolio last year, a decline of 2% worldwide. Dropping below the 10 million mark comes as more than just a psychological setback. It also means the German maker will fall into second, and possibly even third, place in the global automotive sweepstakes once its rivals all tally up their numbers.
And VW has rapidly been losing momentum, December sales slipping 5.2% worldwide and 10% in the American market – where it was sued by the U.S. Justice Department on Monday. The maker could face as much as $20 billion in fines for violating the Clean Air Act by using a so-called “defeat device” to illegally pass emissions tests.