Volkswagen, Europe's biggest car maker, said Friday that it made a loss on sales of its own-brand (VW, Skoda, Bentley and Bugatti) cars in the first three months of the year, putting the brakes on group earnings as a whole. By contrast, the car maker's luxury Audi brand, which also includes SEAT and Lamborghini, remained in robust health. The VW brand group turned in operating loss of 53 million euros ($69 million) in the period from January to March, only slightly narrower than the 71 million euros booked a year earlier. Here, Skoda and Bentley were in the black, meaning that the VW brand itself posted an even deeper loss. The group attributed that to model changeovers, with the new Golf Plus, Jetta and Passat models not yet on the market in the first quarter. But the strong euro and fierce price competition also weighed on earnings, the car maker complained. The trucks division was able to halve its losses, turning in first-quarter operating loss of 39 million euros compared with 88 million euros a year earlier. And the Audi division was able to lift operating profit by 22.4 percent to 303 million euros "despite the difficult conditions on key markets," VW said.