German carmaker Volkswagen posted record sales, revenue and earnings in 2011, challenging industry leader General Motors as the world's biggest automaker. But, the outlook for 2012 is cloudier.
Europe's biggest carmaker reported a doubling of its net profit in 2011 to 15.41 billion euros ($20.2 billion). Revenues rose 26 percent to 159.34 billion euros, the company said Monday.
Volkswagen said that earnings in 2011 were boosted by "accounting factors" related to the automaker's stalled takeover of sports car manufacturer Porsche AG.
However, with 8.3 million vehicles sold last year the VW group had "topped 8 million for the first time in its history" – up14.7 percent from sales the previous year.
VW, which includes 8 passenger car and two truck brands, overtook Japan's Toyota as the world's second biggest car company by total deliveries in 2011. It is aiming to unseat US rival General Motors, which sold 9.03 million cars in 2011, as the world's number one by 2018.
"We are making steady progress on our way to pole position in the automotive industry," Volkswagen chairman Martin Winterkorn told the group's annual press conference in Wolfsburg.
Winterkorn said he expected deliveries to increase again in 2012, but gave no precise figure as to how he saw revenues developing.
Cost management would become important, he added, because "positive effects from the attractive model range and strong competitive position" were likely to be offset in part by "increasingly stiff competition in a challenging market environment," especially in European markets.
Hans Dieter Pötsch - VW chief financial officer – said the group had already "increased profitability" and demonstrated its "financial robustness."
As a result, VW shareholders would get a hike in their dividend by 80 cents to 3 euros per share, he added, while workers at the company's six plants were to receive a bonus of 7,500 euros each.
uhe/gb (Reuters, AP, dpa)