Volkswagen posted record-breaking global sales in 2012, up 11 percent at 9.07 million, but the ambitious German automaker continues to trail Japanese rival Toyota.
The 12-brand giant's sales grew in the United States -- where sales jumped 35 percent -- China and Latin America, VW said on the eve of the Detroit auto show.
Sales were stable overall in Europe despite the economic crisis, but were down 6.5 percent in Western Europe excluding Germany.
VW, which aspires to be the world's biggest automaker, has a fair way to go to surpass the current champion, as Toyota has forecast that 2012 sales will jump 22 percent to 9.7 million vehicles.
But chief Martin Winterkorn expressed confidence for the future.
"This industry remains a growth industry worldwide and in this country," Winterkorn told reporters.
GM, which briefly regained the crown after Toyota's supplies were shattered by the 2011 Japanese quake and tsunami, has not yet forecast or released its global sales figures for last year.