Volkswagen is the world's biggest car brand

Despite a series of environmental and corporate scandals the Germans are back on top...

Volkswagen is the world's biggest car brand

Markus Schreiber AP/Press Association Images

Volkswagen has edged past Toyota reclaim its crown as the world's largest automaker by sales - despite the damage that the brand's reputation experienced as a result of its diesel emission cheating scandal.

This brings Toyota's four-year spell at the top to an end - it shifted 10.175 million vehicles around the world in 2016, compared to VW's 10.31 million.

VW is still dealing with the fallout of its cheating of environmental tests - including legal action from individual car owners in the UK who claim they were misled by the company. A number of its top officials have been arrested in the US as part of the FBI's investigation.

This didn't stop its sales increasing by 3.8% last year with China accounting for most of this growth - sales in the regions grew by 12% to almost 4 million units. Changes in tax policies are expected to lead to a slowdown in China's motor industry in 2017.

While sales have held up - the company's bottom line has come under pressure following its series of payouts through fines and legal actions relating to its fooling of environmental tests.

Meanwhile, Toyota's sales grew by 0.2%. It expects car sales in the US to slow in 2017 - and for its global sales to remain flat.

Ireland's top selling brands in 2016 were:

1. Toyota

2. Volkswagen

3. Hyundai

4. Ford

5. Nissan

While the VW Golf was the second highest-selling model (trailing to the Hyundai Tucson). Irish sales are expected to fall below the 146,385 new vehicles sold last year during 2017.

General Motors will report its 2016 sales next week - it is expected to remain the third biggest car company.