Volkswagen Sales Rise to First-Quarter Record on Audi Demand

Apr 11, 2014 5:45 am ET

(Updates with analyst’s comment in fifth paragraph.)

April 11 (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG, Europe’s biggest carmaker, sold 5.8 percent more autos in the first quarter, marking a delivery record for the period as the Audi luxury brand attracted buyers.

Sales rose to 2.4 million vehicles from 2.27 million a year ago, Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen said today in a statement. March deliveries climbed 7.6 percent to 929,500 cars.

“All in all, we are very satisfied with the way deliveries developed in the first three months,” Christian Klingler, VW’s sales chief, said in the statement. “There are signs of a return to modest growth on the markets in western Europe” after a six-year slump.

Volkswagen intends to sell more than 10 million vehicles in 2014 to reach a target four years earlier than planned. The German automaker has applied to set up its first car plant in Thailand, people familiar with matter said last week. Expansion in fast-growing Asian markets and recovering demand in Europe are key to the company’s effort to overtake Toyota Motor Corp. as the global sales leader by 2018.

“Europe is decisive; if growth there stabilizes, then it’s very good for VW,” said Daniel Schwarz, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “It’s a good sign that VW’s sales gains accelerated in March.”

Audi Demand

Audi deliveries rose 12 percent to 412,800 vehicles in the quarter, as the world’s second-largest luxury-car brand held off No. 3 Mercedes-Benz. Demand at the Ingolstadt, Germany-based Volkswagen unit surged 21 percent in the Asia-Pacific market.

Sales at VW’s namesake car brand increased 3.9 percent to 1.48 million vehicles in the period, as deliveries in Europe rose 6.6 percent and demand in the Asia-Pacific region jumped 13 percent.

Volkswagen posted 9.73 million deliveries in 2013, including the MAN and Scania heavy-truck brands, as a boost in Chinese demand helped the company surpass sales at General Motors Co. to become the world’s second-biggest carmaker. The German manufacturer plans to introduce more than 100 models through 2015 to win more customers. The figures released today exclude the two truck units.

Even as VW pushes for global growth, GM regained the lead among foreign carmakers in China in the first quarter. The U.S. automaker’s deliveries there rose 13 percent to 919,114 vehicles, exceeding VW’s 880,700 auto sales.