FRANKFURT –- Volkswagen Group increased global vehicle sales in March by 12.5 percent to 862,700, helped by strong growth in North America and China.
But Europe's biggest carmaker said uncertainty in European markets is still a matter for concern.
"We produced another strong performance in North America, China and Russia. However, uncertainty continues, particularly on the markets in western Europe," Christian Klingler, the group's head of sales, said in a statement on Friday.
The group's three-month vehicle sales rose 9.6 percent to 2.16 million, setting a new record for first-quarter sales.
Sales in China, the group's single largest market, rose 15.6 percent to 633,900 in the first three months. In western Europe, demand continued to be weak as economic uncertainty depresses consumer confidence. Sales fell by 4.7 percent to 507,100.
In Central and Eastern Europe, sales rose in the quarter by 35.1 percent to 147,400. Demand in Russia was particularly strong rising 77 percent to 65,965 in the first three months.
In Germany, VW's biggest single European market, volume increased 5.7 percent to 282,400 in the same period.
Demand continued to remain strong in the United States, where sales rose 34 percent to 124,400 units in the quarter.
All brands grow except Seat
VW's core brand continued to lead volume sales, increasing deliveries by 10.5 percent to 1.36 million in the quarter, while luxury brand Audi grew sales 10.8 percent to 346,100.
Skoda sales were up 11.8 percent to 242,700, while Spanish unit Seat was the group's only brand with falling volume. Sales dropped 11.6 percent to 80,100, as shrinking markets in western Europe continued to plague the brand.
VW's first-quarter growth puts the automaker in a strong position to challenge General Motors and Toyota for the position of No. 1 global automaker by unit sales, a goal VW aims to achieve by the end of the decade.
In 2011, VW Group sold 8.27 million units, behind GM with 9.05 million and ahead of Toyota with 7.95 million.