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VW demand steady despite scandal

December 15, 2015

"Dieselgate" may be little more than a bump in the road for the German car giant, new data have suggested. While VW is trailing its German rivals, European demand for the brand is proving remarkably resilient.

Wolfsburg VW Absatzzahlen
Image: dapd

The emissions-cheating scandal at Germany's largest carmaker, Volkswagen, continues to prove a drag on sales. But November figures, released by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) on Tuesday, showed that the auto giant may get off easier than some had hoped.

VW sold 263,797 new vehicles in the EU last month, a 4.1-percent sales increase over the same period a year earlier, while BMW shifted roughly 73,000 units and Daimler 67,000 units in the same month.

In the 11 months to November, demand for VW cars even rose by 6.2 percent year-on-year.

Skoda performed surprisingly well, despite being one of the group's five brands also caught up in test-rigging turmoil, with sales shooting up by nearly 12 percent compared to November 2014.

Just a dent?

The ACEA's data appears to fly in the face of the doomsday scenarios prophesized by some analysts. Several experts had predicted the downfall of the iconic carmaker after it was revealed in September that the company had rigged the engines of some 11 million vehicles worldwide to pass pollution tests.

But Tuesday's report suggests Volkswagen may emerge from the scandal with little more than a dent in its image, which the executives in Wolfsburg, Germany, have set out to repair by launching a massive PR campaign that ranges from creating more transparency to rolling out a major recall beginning next month.

However, the EU sales figures also suggested that while some consumers may be steering clear of VW for now, many car buyers continue to prefer German engineering. Stuttgart-based Daimler saw demand for its luxury brand Mercedes soar by nearly 23 percent, while Munich-based BMW logged a sales increase of more than 18 percent. In Rüsselsheim, Opel posted a 10-percent increase. As a result, VW's market share shrank to 24.3 percent from 26.6 year-on-year.

South drives sales

Meanwhile, VW's archrival Toyota Group, which overtook Volkswagen as the world's best-selling car company earlier this year, saw EU demand increase by just 6.1 percent last month, and only 6.6 percent for the Januar-November period.

Jaguar Land Rover Group logged the biggest annual increase as well-to-do Europeans pushed demand for the ritzy British brand 70 percent higher than a year earlier.

Overall, November marked the 27th consecutive month of growth in the EU, with nearly 1.1 million new vehicles hitting the bloc's roads. Italy and Spain drove sales, as the improved economic outlook there saw demand surge by 23.5 percent and 25.4 percent respectively.

pad/hg (AP, dpa)