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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

VW earns $5.2B, advances on Toyota

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VW earns $5.2B, advances on Toyota

Christine Tierney / The Detroit News

German carmaker Volkswagen AG set out three years ago to overtake Toyota Motor Corp. by 2018 and, by some measures, already is closing in on the wounded Japanese giant.

Volkswagen earned $5.2 billion for the first three quarters of 2010, exceeding Toyota's full-year forecast for a profit of $4.2 billion.

Volkswagen, Europe's largest automaker and the world's third largest, aspires to be the world's biggest and most profitable car firm, with annual sales of 10 million vehicles by 2018.

"The Volkswagen Group continues to have its sights firmly set on capturing pole position in the automotive industry," Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said in a statement Wednesday.

So far this year, Ford Motor Co. is in the lead after reporting $6.37 billion in net income for the first nine months.

VW's big presence in China and other emerging markets, coupled with a strong performance by its premium Audi brand, have bolstered earnings.

The automaker expects its 2010 sales to exceed last year's record 6.29 million cars and light trucks, but didn't provide an estimate.

Toyota, meanwhile, has forecast full-year sales of 7.38 million vehicles.

Volkswagen is now focusing on restoring a significant presence in the U.S. market, where it aims to triple sales by 2018.

VW has invested $5 billion in North America, building an assembly plant in Tennessee and designing an all-new Jetta compact and a midsize car specifically for American customers.

"VW is closing in on Toyota on profitability targets," Tim Schuldt, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Equinet AG, told Bloomberg News. "What matters now is to keep expanding the product portfolio to underpin the positive trend on deliveries."

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20101028/AUTO01/10280363/1148/auto01/VW-earns-$5.2B--advances-on-Toyota#ixzz13fB9yJWV

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