Volkswagen defied the gloom in Europe and cemented its status among the global leaders of the auto industry, reporting record results and saying it sold more than 8 million vehicles last year for the first time in its 75-year history.

VW, the top European automaker, said net income more than doubled to €15.4 billion, or $20.6 billion. Revenue soared almost 26 percent to €159 billion.

Pretax profit rose to €18.9 billion from €9 billion. Profit was aided by “positive effects” from equity investments and the valuation of its Porsche options, VW said.

The German company said unit sales rose almost 15 percent from 2010 to 8.3 million vehicles, led by the Volkswagen and Audi brands – both are selling their advanced TDI diesel vehicles with a waiting list.  The annual profits, revenue and unit sales were all records. VW said last week that 2012 had also gotten off to a positive start, with sales rising 1.3 percent in January from a year earlier.

Volkswagen’s sales move it to the No.2 spot worldwide, behind General Motors, which sold 9.03 million vehicles last year, and ahead of Toyota Motor, which was hamstrung by the earthquake and tsunami disaster last March. VW’s net profit was almost triple the $7.6 billion G.M. earned last year.