VW brand sales rise to record as China, Europe offset U.S., Brazil slide

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FRANKFURT -- Sales of Volkswagen brand cars surpassed 3 million vehicles in the first half, marking a new record thanks mainly to double-digit growth in China, the marque's largest single market.

Deliveries rose 4 percent to 3.07 million vehicles in the first six months, but the rate of increase slowed to 1 percent in June, when the brand sold 514,900 vehicles.

VW sales and marketing chief Christian Klingler cited strong demand for the Golf compact as one reason behind the stable first half results, but warned that global market conditions would not get any easier going forward.

"The situation on global markets will remain challenging in the second half of the year and will keep us very much on our toes," Klingler said in a statement today.

China continued to drive volumes, with sales rising nearly 19 percent to 1.39 million cars in the first half, offsetting weakness in other regions.

By comparison, sales in South America sank about 21 percent. This included a 17 percent drop in Brazil, the brand’s third largest market with nearly 256,000 cars sold in the first half.

Demand also dropped sharply in the United States, where sales fell 13.4 percent to 179,000 cars hurt by declining volumes of the U.S.-built Passat midsize sedan and the Beetle. Sales there accelerated their descent in June, falling 22 percent for the month alone.

The VW brand also saw a decline in Russia where sales dropped almost 13 percent to 67,400 vehicles during the first six months.

On a more positive note, the brand recorded a 5.5 percent increase in western Europe excluding Germany, as volumes there reached 451,300 cars. Sales were flat in its domestic market at about 286,000 cars, according to VW.

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