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Business

VW sales hit by cheating scandal

October was a hot month for the automobile industry, except for one beleaguered German carmaker. While VW's sales in the US plateaued, they fell in Germany. Other automakers logged double-digit growth.

Most automakers with cars for sale in the US market reported sales gains from one year ago on Tuesday, with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles all saying they had their best October in 11 years.

Even Toyota, No. 3 in US sales, logged an all-time record for the month.

But the world's second-largest carmaker, Germany's Volkswagen, had no such luck. It said 30,387 people in the US had bought VW cars in October, a meager 0.24 percent rise over a year ago.

The German auto giant is currently embroiled in its biggest scandal ever after admitting to rigging cars sold around the world with software designed to mislead emissions tests.

Analysts also noted the month of October had an extra sales day this year. Without that extra boost, they said, the German auto concern would have likely had to register a drop in sales.

GM, the US market leader, saw its domestic sales jump 15.7 percent on the year. The No. 2 American car company, Ford, saw its sales grow 13.4 percent year-on-year. FCA US, the US arm of Fiat Chrysler, said its sales were up by 14.7 percent.

Fewer Germans buying VW cars

Back home in Germany, new car registrations were up 1.1 percent on the year, a signal that the cheating scandal that has engulfed Volkswagen in the last month and a half has either not dampened consumers' moods or that it is simply too soon to measure what effect it might have on the industry.

That said, of all the German automakers, VW was the only one whose sales fell in October. Compared to one year ago, they were down 0.7 percent, according to the German regulator KBA,

the country's automotive watchdog.

Any effect that the emissions scandal may have on VW's sales, however, likely wouldn't become apparent until at least two months after the scandal broke, some experts have noted. News of VW's deception came to light on Sept. 18.

While not an outright drop in sales, the fact that Volkswagen wasn't able to get consumers in the US to buy more of its vehicles is a blow to the company's plans to establish itself as the world's No. 1 carmaker.

Expansion in the US market, with sales in China faltering as the world's second-largest economy slows, was a key component of those plans.

cjc/tko (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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