Volkswagen SA has set itself a target of knocking Toyota off the best-seller perch by 2018 at the latest, managing director David Powels told reporters. Toyota has been the best-selling brand for 25 years. 

The strategy – in line with VW’s global ambitions announced earlier this year – would mean selling at least 100,000 units a year, said Powels. 

This year the company expects sales to grow by 40%, up from 70,565 in 2010 to around 98,500. Exports of SA-built Polos are also expected to reach a record 80,000, up from 75,000 – also a record – last year.

But growth must be profitable, said Powels. “Historically a big portion of Volkswagen cars has been in the entry-level market but the mix is becoming richer which will help profitable growth. We also want profitable growth in exports.” Volkswagen’s best seller is the entry-level Polo Vivo. 

In the first seven months of this year, VW has had a 23.3% share of the passenger car market with Hyundai-Kia second on 15.5% and Toyota third on 13.4% in the aftermath of March’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan which interrupted supplies. 

But Toyota still leads the overall market, which includes pick-up trucks, on 18.4% with VW on 17.7%. 

VW had a 2.1% share of the pick-up market in 2010 but this increased to 5.6% this year with the arrival of the Amarok. “We want to grow this to 8%, 9%. We want to become a significant player,” said Powels.