Volkswagen AG reported a 41.3 percent gain in January sales, but Europe's largest automaker is unsure whether the surge will continue.
“This good performance must not lead us to underestimate the challenges that lie ahead in 2010. The situation on international automotive markets remains tense," VW sales boss Christian Klingler said in a statement.
VW delivered 538,500 vehicles to customers in January, up from 381,100 during a weak January 2009 that resulted from the worsening of the global economic crisis.
VW got boosts from China, Germany and the United States last month.
Deliveries in China nearly doubled to 166,900 last month from 83,900 in January 2009 while VW's U.S. sales increased 40.1 percent to 24,600 units. While sales are expected to rise more in those markets, there are big concerns about a decline in Germany.
VW's January sales in its home market rose 34.6 percent to 71,800. Leading the way was VW brand, which sold 44,100 cars, up 49.5 percent from January 2009.
Germany's scrapping subsidy, which gave car buyers cash to trade in old cars for new ones, ran out last September but VW keeps benefiting as cars ordered before the program ended continue to be delivered.
"The after effects of the scrapping premium brought yet another boost in January. This trend will, however, tail off quite sharply during the year," Klingler said.
The head of Germany's association for import car brands VDIK told Reuters that new-car registrations in February would likely sink 30 percent, now that scrapping schemes in Europe's biggest economy have run out.
For the current year, registrations could sink by 1 million to 2.8 million new vehicles in Germany, Volker Lange said in the interview.
Although Ford of Europe said its sales in Europe's core 19 countries rose 4.2 percent to 105,300 in January -- the eighth consecutive month of volume growth -- the automaker also is concerned about the rest of the year.
"We have to remember though that the market outlook for 2010 is still uncertain, especially with the run-out of some scrappage schemes in the near future. Our industry forecast is that the (European) market will be down from the 15.9 million we saw last year," Ford of Europe sales chief Ingvar Sviggum said in a statement.
Golf leads the way
VW brand has benefited from scrapping schemes in Germany and other European countries. The core brand in VW group started off 2010 by boosting global sales 46.2 percent to 359,300 units. The Golf was the most popular model, with global deliveries up 55.8 percent to 45,600. VW also sold 40,200 units of its Polo subcompact last month.
VW group subsidiaries Audi, Skoda and Seat all reported increased sales in January.
Audi rose 38.6 percent to 77,800 units; Skoda delivered 54,100 vehicles, a rise of 54.5 percent; and Seat boosted its volume 22.9 percent to 24,300 cars.