Volkswagen sold a record 6.24 million of its VW-branded vehicles in 2018 despite delivery problems caused by new anti-pollution regulations, but warned the company would keep facing considerable challenges in 2019.
Still recovering from a 2015 emissions test cheating scandal and dealing with tighter European environmental regulations, the German automaker has been attempting to increase sales and slash costs to fund an ambitious shift to electric cars and automated driving.
At the same time, trade tensions with China driven by U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policies have caused uncertainty in the international auto industry.
“2019 will once again be a year of enormous challenges for the brand, aside from volume growth we will concentrate even more on our profitability,” Chief Operating Officer Ralf Brandstaetter stated.
VW brand sales increased 0.2 percent last year due to growth in South America, the United States and Europe, compensating for a reduction in China and difficulties registering cars after the introduction of Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test (WTLP) emissions standards.
The statistics do not include sales under the Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Seat brands, that are also owned by Volkswagen.
The VW brand boosted market share in China in last year but its vehicle sales dropped 2.1 percent with the world’s largest passenger auto market on track for an yearly sales contraction not seen since at least 1990.
For the broader Asia-Pacific region, sales declined 1.7 percent.
“This decline is mainly because of developments in China, where consumer restraint continues in an uncertain macroeconomic environment,” the company stated.
Despite the rise of 3.6 percent for the year, European sales took a hit after stricter anti-pollution regulations were introduced in September.
“2018 was marked by major uncertainty in some regions, especially in the second half,” Volkswagen brand sales chief Juergen Stackmann stated, but he also said that new products had helped offset that.
The company sold about 50,000 electric and hybrid cars, a 13 percent rise compared with 2017.