FRANKFURT – Volkswagen Group increased vehicle sales sharply in September and achieved record nine-month results, which the company said put it well on the way to hitting sales of eight million cars this year.
The group's retail sales for all brands, including Audi, Skoda and Seat, rose 13.3 percent in September to 751,900 vehicles.
''Delivering six million vehicles in nine months represents a key milestone on the way to reaching our annual target of eight million vehicles sold in 2011," group head of sales Christian Klingler said in a statement on Friday.
"We are also expecting very good delivery figures for the fourth quarter,'' he added.
The group's nine-month retail sales rose to 6.11 million, a rise of 13.9 percent.
The VW brands Audi and Skoda lead the way, helped by deliveries in expanding markets, including China and central and eastern Europe and by a significant rise in U.S. sales.
China sales were up 14.6 percent to 1.69 million in the first nine months. U.S. sales increased 20.4 percent to 322,000.
In Europe, sales grew 10.8 percent to 2.7 million. Growth was slower in western Europe, where sales, excluding Germany, rose 6.3 percent to 1.52 million. In central and eastern Europe, deliveries jumped 28.3 percent in the first nine months to 390,000 units.
In Germany, VW's biggest single European market, sales rose 12.3 percent to 864,400 between January and September. But with a slowdown in Europe's largest economy, VW may be set for tougher times ahead. Roughly every third car sold in Germany stems from a brand offered by the automaker.
With all of VW Group's brands growing deliveries in the period to September, the company's core VW brand continued to lead volume sales, increasing deliveries by 12.3 percent to 3.81 million, while Audi sales grew 17.4 percent to 932,200 in the same period.
Skoda sales were up 16.8 percent to 664,800 and Seat deliveries grew 3.1 percent to 266,800.
The group's nine-month growth puts VW in a strong position to challenge Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Co. among the top-ranked automakers. VW aims to become the world's best-selling automaker by 2018.
In 2010, VW Group sold 7.14 million units, behind Toyota with 8.42 million and GM with 8.39 million.