VW's first-quarter group vehicle sales increased 6 percent to a record 2.4 million units, helped by rebounding demand in Europe. Quarterly deliveries of Audis and Porsches, which account for about two-thirds of VW group EBIT, rose 12 percent and 4.5 percent respectively to 413,000 and 38,700 cars. Sales at the core VW brand rose 4 percent to 1.48 million vehicles. Skoda sales were up 12 percent to 247,200 and Seat’s deliveries increased 7 percent to 93,400.
VW stuck to the cautious outlook it published in February, even though core European markets that account for 40 percent of group sales have increased volumes for seven straight months. Group operating margin may be broadly flat this year, coming in at about 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent, compared with 5.9 percent last year, VW said, reiterating its Feb. 21 statement. That compares with 2013 car division margins of 8.8 percent at Toyota and 9 percent at Hyundai.
Analysts said VW was understating its prospects and they expect the carmaker to revise its full-year earnings guidance upwards. "There's an 80-percent chance that VW will raise its guidance in the next 3-4 months," Frankfurt-based Metzler Bank analyst Juergen Pieper said, citing the European recovery and growing savings from modular production.
VW said last month that it may sell more than 10 million vehicles for the first time in 2014, up from 9.7 million last year. It previously planned to top 10 million sales in a year by 2018.
VW plans to introduce 100 new or revamped cars through next year as part of a strategy to overtake Toyota as the global leader in auto sales by 2018.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this story