Despite the “dieselgate” scandal the led to a sales slump in the US, Volkswagen has emerged as the world's top-selling car manufacturer. Volkswagen defied the trend of auto sales winding down as Toyota and General Motors reported fewer sales during the first quarter.

Compared to last year's data, Volkswagen reported an increase of 0.6 percent in sales at 3,361,600 units and are ahead of Toyota by 90,000 units. Meanwhile, Toyota sales are down by 2.8 percent from last year's figures at 3,271,970 cars old. General Motors, with brands Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Holden, Opel and Vauxhall, also reported sliding sales at 1.6 percent down from the first quarter of 2015 with an estimated sales figure of 3,146,667 this first quarter of 2016.

Volkswagen's rise to the top was aided by their two biggest markets, namely the European region and China. Sales in Europe were up this first quarter of 2015 while Volkswagen's Chinese sales rose to around 5 percent. The sales from Volkswagen's biggest market was enough to offset the 5.1 percent sales drop in the US Market. China accounts for one-third of Volkswagen's global sales.

Toyota's drop in sales meanwhile was attributed to the company's refusal to build new plants and the oversaturation of some key markets such as the US. Even though sales in its home market went up, it was not enough to compenate for the losses abroad. Its other brands, Lexus, Hino and recently acquired Daihatsu, were a mixed bag as well. The company reported that Hino sales went up 26 percent and Daihatsu sales are up by 2.5 percent in their home market but slowed down abroad. Lexus on the other hand dropped down to third in the US luxury car sales charts behind Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

With that said, Volkswagen is back on track of the goal they set last year. The company aims to be the world's biggest automaker by 2018 and are investing on electric vehicles and plans to further expand their lineup at the time of writing. Meanwhile, Toyota estimates that they will be able to shift 10.5 million cars this year, above Volkswagen's projected 10.05 million units by the end of the 2016 fiscal year.

Figures and estimates courtesy of the manufacturers.