File picture: Rafael Marchante / Reuters.

Tokyo - Volkswagen sold more vehicles globally than Toyota in 2016, taking the crown as the world's largest carmaker for the first time, results showed on Monday.

The Toyota group, which includes Daihatsu and Hino, reported that its global group sales edged up 0.2 percent from a year earlier to 10.17 million vehicles in 2016.

VW's number of global sales in the same year stood at 10.3 million vehicles, up 3.8 percent from the previous year, despite an emissions cheating scandal, the carmaker said earlier this month.

Toyota fell from the top spot for the first time since 2011, when manufacturers' supply chains were disrupted by a powerful earthquake and resulting tsunami in north-eastern Japan.

In 2016, Toyota's sales outside of Japan fell 0.5 per cent from a year earlier, to 7.94 million, due to decreased exports to North America, the carmaker's largest market.

Toyota downplayed its relinquishment of the title to VW.

Toyota not chasing volume

"At Toyota, we are not focused on chasing volume. We believe that our sales volume is just the result of our focus on making ever-better cars and providing better customer experiences," the carmaker said in a statement.

"Our goal is to be No 1 with consumers by engineering and producing ever-better cars. We are grateful to every customer who has chosen a Toyota vehicle," it added.

In September 2015, the German carmaker admitted it had installed equipment aimed at manipulating pollution tests on about 11 million diesel models around the world.

The scandal has so far cost Europe's biggest carmaker billions of euros and led to the indictment of six of its senior executives in the United States.