(Updates with analyst’s comment in sixth paragraph.)
Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG’s nine-month sales topped 7 million vehicles for the first time as demand in China more than offset a decline in Europe.
Deliveries rose 4.8 percent to 7.03 million cars and trucks, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based automaker, the region’s largest, said today in a statement. September sales gained 7 percent to 856,900 vehicles.
The maker of VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles is relying on growth in China, the world’s largest auto market, to balance slumping demand in Europe, where sales are set to drop for a sixth straight year. VW has a goal of passing General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. by 2018 to become the world’s biggest auto manufacturer.
“Thanks to a broad-based, international positioning and a convincing product range we were able to respond well to the continuing uncertainty in the euro zone and the challenging overall market situation,” Christian Klingler, VW sales chief, said in the statement.
VW’s nine-months sales in China rose 18 percent to 2.35 million cars and sport-utility vehicles, boosted by locally produced vehicles such as Audi’s Q3 and Q5 SUVs. European deliveries contracted 2.4 percent to 2.73 million vehicles.
September sales in China were an estimated 15.4 percent, “slightly behind” industrywide figures reported today, “perhaps reflecting weaker performance outside of the VW brand and Audi,” David Arnold, a London-based industry specialist at Barclays Capital, said in a report to clients.
VW rose as much as 0.8 percent to 175.4 euros and was trading up 0.6 percent at 2:01 p.m. in Frankfurt. The stock has gained 1.7 percent this year, valuing the automaker at 79.4 billion euros ($108 billion).
The German company is in talks on increasing its stake in a joint venture with FAW CAR Co. as part of its push to expand in China. It plans to lift the holding to 50 percent from the current 40 percent, Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said in an interview published Sept. 15 in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. Volkswagen operates a second Chinese joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp.
VW is working expand its model lineup in China 29 percent by 2015 to attract a broader range of customers. It will offer 90 cars, sport-utility vehicles, vans and heavy trucks in the country compared with about 70 models now, Jochem Heizmann, head of Volkswagen’s Chinese business, said in April.
The manufacturer outlined a strategy in March to increase production capacity in China 60 percent by 2018 under a 9.8 billion-euro project that includes building factories and increasing the Chinese workforce 33 percent to more than 100,000 employees in the period.
--Editor: Tom Lavell