Honda and Volkswsagen are two notable auto manufacturers with far-flung markets that are helping them weather - and thrive despite - the tough sales downturn. Honda's sales in China, up 11.7 percent for 2008 due to strong sales of its Accord and CR-V, actually helped it post record high global production of 3.96 million units for 2008, 1.2 percent higher than 2007 production.
VW Transporter Double CabEnlarge Photo
The Russian market has turned out to be a boon to Volkswagen, who increased sales of light trucks like the Caddy, T5 van, and Crafter delivery truck to that market by 78 percent for 2008. The Wolfsburg-based VW Group managed a 0.6 worldwide sales increase for 2008, helped in no small part by luxury brand Audi who topped one million units in global sales for the first time in its history. Nonetheless, a harbinger of tough times to come in '09 is VW's 15 percent sales downturn for January 2009.
Elsewhere, news wasn't so good for the newly-crowned number one worldwide automaker in annual sales, Toyota. They managed 9.22 million units in 2008, a 2.9 percent decrease from 2007's numbers and their first yearly decline in seven years.