FRANKFURT Carmaker Volkswagen (VOWG.DE) will overtake U.S. rival General Motors (GM.N) this year as the world's second largest automaker by volume, market research company R.L. Polk Germany said on Monday.
Global production of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles is forecast to fall 19 percent, or two million units, to 52.8 million vehicles this year -- the lowest output since 1998, the Essen-based company said.
While GM will suffer a 31 percent drop in production, VW will likely only see production slide some 15 percent, thanks in part to its low exposure to the U.S. auto market.
"Volkswagen will therefore overtake ... GM and advance to become the new number two after Toyota (7203.T)," it said in a statement.
Polk expects global car output to increase in 2010 again, with strong growth rates in the next two years that allow the market to achieve a record level of more than 70 million vehicles produced in 2012.
(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by Andrew Macdonald)