Germany's dapd news agency cited Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn on Monday as saying in Detroit that VW had delivered 8.156 million vehicles in 2011, a 14 per cent rise over the previous year.
Toyota has reported sales of 7.9 million vehicles in 2011, while General Motors Co. has not yet reported. However, it is expected to have sold some 9 million based on projections from the first three quarters.
Winterkorn is holding a press conference later in the day at the Detroit Auto Show to release full figures.
Volkswagen's brands include Audi, Skoda and Seat.