Image: Motor Trend/frank lingOnce upon a time long ago the United States was the leading car maker in the world. But times of changed and overseas car manufacturers have taken the lead away from the U.S..

If you guessed that Toyota was the #1 car maker, that’s a pretty good guess because this Japanese company has been in the number one slot for many years...until now. The new leader for making cars is...wait for it...almost there...Volkswagen! Volkswagen?

According to Bloomberg, sales for Volkswagen actually declined .5% up till June of this year. So how can a decline in sales equal the number 1 slot for making cars? Easy; Toyota had a decline in sales of 1.5%, which moved VW into the number one slot.

What Happened?

The strong showing by VW (5.02 million cars sold in the first half of 2015) was enough to edge out the declining sales of Toyota vehicles during this same time period. But it’s more than just numbers.

VW really got its grove on by selling more cars in Europe than other car makers. It increased its sales numbers by six percent with strong movement of its Passat and Porsche Macan autos.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for VW. Volkswagen still lags behind Toyota in the United States for sales. Toyota jumped 5.6%, while VW, Audi, and Porsche models only increased 2.4%. So there’s still room for improvement.

Lots and Lots of Recalls

Although Toyota is leading the pack for car sales in the United States, it suffers from many recalls due to faulty equipment or poor workmanship. The company was slapped with a $1.2 billion fine, imposed by the federal government in 2014, because of car safety problems, which led to the deaths of 37 individuals.

The car maker was accused, in the criminal probe, that it purposely hid crucial information regarding defective accelerator pedals that led to sudden increases of car speed and fatal accidents.

Toyota has since paid the fine, but continues to send out various recall bulletins on millions of cars. This sudden turn of Toyota’s image for top quality cars into fallible, imperfect vehicles continues to cast a pall over the once proud automaker.

The Writing on the (Garage) Wall

There is no telling which auto maker will end up at the top of the heap at the end of the year, but if trends continue the way they have been going, barring any major snafus from VW, the German automaker is headed to take the crown for 2015.

However, if Toyota can somehow improve its overall quality and stop the recall bleeding, it may still have a chance of pulling itself out of the mire.

Anyone want to take any bets?

Source: Motor Trend

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