The crisis at Volkswagen appears to have little impact on sales, with demand for its cars still surprisingly strong. But new data shows the German auto giant is losing some ground to its competitors.
The emissions-cheating scandal at Volkswagen is showing little sign of slowing down Germany's largest carmaker, industry data showed on Tuesday, as October sales were barely dented by the worst crisis in the company's history.
The Wolfsburg-based auto group saw EU demand for new passenger cars drop by just 0.5 percent last month, from 278,147 in the same period last year to 276,771 units, according to the Brussels-based Association of European Carmakers (ACEA).
The surprisingly stable figures come at a time when the car giant is facing its biggest recall in history after some 12 million of its vehicles, mainly diesel, were found to have been equipped with software that allowed it to cheat on pollution tests.
Of the millions of manipulated cars, VW's namesake brand accounted for more than half, followed by the group's luxury brand Audi at 1.2 million. The group's budget brands SEAT and Skoda were also affected, at 700,000 and 1.2 million respectively.
In light of this, it was somewhat surprising that SEAT and Skoda took the biggest hit in the month following the September revelation. SEAT saw new registrations slump 11.4 percent in October, while Skoda logged a 2.6-percent drop. At the same time, demand for the VW brand only dipped 0.2 percent, while Audi saw a 4.1 percent increase.
VW, Toyota losing ground
In fact, a number of Volkswagen's biggest competitors took an even bigger beating in October, with arch-rival Toyota seeing sales down 4 percent compared with a year ago.
On the other end of the spectrum, Mercedes-maker Daimler grew sales by 21 percent, followed by BMW's 13.4 percent. Japanese brand Mazda and British Jaguar Land Rover Group topped the list, increasing registration by 34.3 percent and 32.5 percent respectively.
Their strong performance meant Volkswagen's market share shrank from 25.9 percent a year ago to 25.1 percent last month.
Overall, new passenger car sales in Europe grew for the 26th consecutive month in October, Tuesday's ACEA data showed, although this marked a slower rate than the previous nine months.
New registrations in the EU were up 2.9 percent year-on-year, topping 1.1 million units, while sales in the EU plus the four-member European Free Trade Association (EFTA) bloc rose 2.7 percent to 1.14 million vehicles.
In the ten months from January, 11.5 new vehicles hit European road, an 8.2 percent increase from the same period the year before.
pad/uhe (AP, dpa, Reuters)