Martin Winterkorn is charged with heading the German automaker's strategic plans to be the world's largest automaker by 2018 with sales topping 10 million units a year.

German automaker Volkswagen AG has extended CEO Martin Winterkorn's contract for another five years.

Winterkorn's current contract was to have ended on December 31st, 2011. It is now extended until the end of 2016.

The move, and announcing it so early in the year, signals a vote of confidence in Winterkorn's leadership of the VW Group. Winterkorn, 63, is charged with executing Volkswagen's current strategic plan to become the world's top automaker in volume sales by 2018 and toppling Toyota from that global mantle.

But VW also wants to beat Toyota in terms of profitability and is doubling capacity in China to 3 million units a year with two new plants there as well as opening another in Tennessee in order to increase both sales and margins in the North American market.

VW sold more than 7 million units globally for the first time in 2010. It's goal is to sell more than 10 million vehicles a year by 2018.

Gallery: VW extends CEO Martin Winterkorn's contract into 2016