VW takes global sales lead from shutdown-hit Toyota

The logos of Volkswagen (L) and Toyota Motor Corp are seen at their dealership in Tokyo, Japan, in this July 30, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Files

BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE eclipsed Toyota 7203.T as the world's top-selling carmaker in the first quarter as the Japanese rival grappled with a series of production stoppages.

Toyota’s worldwide sales declined 2.3 percent in the January-March period to 2.46 million cars, a spokesman said on Tuesday. VW, struggling to overcome an emissions scandal, reported earlier this month a 0.8 percent increase to 2.51 million vehicles in group deliveries.

General Motors' GM.N quarterly deliveries also dropped, 2.5 percent to 2.36 million cars due to a slump in Latin America.

Volkswagen’s worldwide group deliveries have so far not taken a beating from the diesel emissions-test manipulations, the carmaker’s biggest-ever corporate scandal, benefiting from strong demand for luxury Audi and Porsche models and Czech volume brand Skoda.

The German group, which last week reported the biggest financial loss in its history after setting aside 16.2 billion euros ($18.31 billion) to help meet costs arising from the scandal, expects 2016 deliveries on a par with last year’s 9.93 million.

Already handicapped by a one-week shutdown at domestic assembly plants in February, Toyota said earlier this month it would suspend much of its production at plants across Japan for another week after earthquakes in the country’s south led to a shortage of parts.

So far this year, domestic production has accounted for roughly 40 percent of Toyota’s global output, with nearly half of all its vehicles produced in Japan exported overseas.

Reporting by Andreas Cremer and Naomi Tajitsu; editing by Susan Thomas