Volkswagen shrugs off scandal with record sales

VW Beetle Image copyright Reuters

German car giant Volkswagen has said it sold a record 10.3 million vehicles worldwide last year, despite the continued impact of 2015's emissions cheating scandal.

The VW group saw sales increase by 3.8% in 2016, making it likely that the firm will overtake Toyota as the world's biggest carmaker by volume.

The sales figures include the Audi, Porsche and Skoda brands.

Sales in China surged 12.2%, but US sales fell 2.6% over the year.

VW has been facing setbacks since September 2015, when it admitted installing so-called "defeat devices" in its diesel cars as a way of cheating pollution tests.

On Monday, a senior VW executive in the US, Oliver Schmidt, was charged with taking part in a conspiracy to defraud the US over the scandal, while the company was accused of hiding the issue from regulators.

VW chief executive Matthias Mueller described 2016 as "a very challenging year" for the firm.

He added: "We made strides in resolving and overcoming the diesel crisis and, at the same time, initiated a fundamental change process."

VW's sales for 2016 were boosted by a strong performance in December, when global sales were up 11.8% from a year earlier.

Japanese rival Toyota is likely to report its 2016 sales figures next month. It said at the end of last year that it expected to have sold 10.09 million vehicles, which would give VW the edge.

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