The March 11 earthquake in Japan and the devastating tsunami that followed has robbed Toyota of its crown in the auto world in the first half of 2011.
Third-placed Toyota is closely followed by Renault Nissan and Hyundai. The second half of the year is however expected to be much better for the Japanese company, with most of its plants around the world returning to full production.
It is tipped to regain much of its lost marketshare in key markets such as the US, and at least nudge ahead of VW to the number 2 slot.
Volkswagen, Europe's largest carmaker, has set its heart on becoming the world's largest automaker by 2018. It is revising its targets upwards, and is aiming at making over 8 million units for the whole year, making things that much tougher for Toyota.
"The fight at the top has become very intense and Toyota's production constraints have made things even more tight," said Pradeep Saxena, vice president, TNS Automotive. "The real battle is in markets like US and China, but I expect Toyota to come back very strongly in the second half after sorting its supply issues from Japan."
Overall car sales grew to 36.71 million units worldwide between January and June with demand in the US, the world's second largest market behind China, reviving strongly.