Toyota recaptured the title of world’s largest automaker from Volkswagen in the third quarter of 2015, suggesting that the Japanese automaker may retain the title for the full year.

German automaker Volkswagen had seized the top spot through the first six months of the year, edging closer to its long-running goal of becoming the globe’s biggest vehicle manufacturer for a full calendar year.

But the goal may prove elusive — especially considering that Volkswagen’s emissions scandal was revealed with less than two weeks to go in the third quarter, leaving little time to gauge the full impact at dealerships.

Toyota still dethroned Volkswagen, selling 7.498 million vehicles during the first nine months of the year, a 1.5% decline from the same period in 2014.

Volkswagen sold 7.431 million vehicles during the first nine months of the year, also representing a 1.5% decline.

Now, the fourth quarter reflects a crucial test for Volkswagen, which is facing numerous investigations and a hail of criticism over its installation of manipulative software on 11 million vehicles to cheat emissions tests.

The company has stopped selling the diesel cars involved in the scandal until it can deliver a fix, leaving dealers with a gaping hole in their lineup. That will ding sales, although Volkswagen is expected to discount vehicles to juice sales.

Several years ago, Volkswagen’s former CEO, Martin Winterkorn, had charted a goal of becoming the world’s largest automaker by 2018.

After the first sixth months of the year, Volkswagen had achieved that goal, outselling Toyota by 5.04 million to 5.02 million.

Meanwhile, General Motors, once the perennial No. 1, is now firmly entrenched in the No. 3. slot. The Detroit-based automaker sold 7.151 million vehicles during the first nine months of the year, down 1.3%.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.