The rapid growth of German auto giant Volkswagen  has been one of the biggest stories in the global auto business over the past few years. VW's profits led the industry -- and its total worldwide sales trailed only those of established megagiants Toyota  and General Motors 

VW has said it plans to push past Toyota and GM and lead the world in new-vehicle sales by 2018. A massive worldwide expansion push has led many observers to take VW's audacious plans seriously -- but despite huge new investments in places like China, there are some signs that VW's plans for world domination might be in trouble.

Those signs begin at home, where European recessions have driven auto sales to 20-year lows. VW's global sales in August were up 0.1%, its weakest showing in three years, thanks in large part to slumping sales in Europe -- and that slump shows no sign of turning around soon.


VW says everything is still on track. But there are more and more signs that executives at the German giant are getting worried. In this video, Fool contributor John Rosevear looks at the latest reports on VW from Germany -- and at the small but growing signs that VW's leaders may be quietly preparing for a setback.

VW isn't the only auto giant making big gains in China
Volkswagen is just one of two automakers that are poised to profit big as China's emerging middle class continues to grow, says a top Motley Fool analyst. Both of these auto giants are expected to see profits surge in coming years as the Chinese auto boom continues, this analyst says in a new report. Want to learn more? The report is free for Fool readers -- just  click here now to download your copy.

The article Is VW's Global Surge in Trouble? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor John Rosevear owns shares of General Motors. You can connect with him on Twitter at @jrosevear.The Motley Fool recommends General Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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