FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen Group sales returned to growth in January, although VW brand deliveries were were hit in Europe and in the U.S. where the company's diesel emissions scandal has hit hardest.
Deliveries at the 12-brand group, including luxury division Audi and sports-car maker Porsche, climbed 3.7 percent to 847,800 in January, Volkswagen said in a statement on Friday. In December, sales had dropped 5.2 percent, contributing to the first decline in full-year sales since 2002.
Deliveries of VW-brand vehicles increased by 2.8 percent at 521,400, driven by a 15 percent jump in China, its biggest market, the brand said in a separate statement.
VW brand's deliveries fell 3.1 percent in Europe, with a 5.2 percent decline in Germany. The brand's U.S. volume was down 15 percent. Brazilian sales plunged 43 percent and Russian sales dropped by 28 percent. VW said economic conditions in Brazil and Russia remain "tense" while China is regaining momentum and the trend in Europe is "generally stable."
Porsche, Audi growth
VW Group's other brands saw deliveries rise in January, with Porsche up 24 percent and Audi up 4.0 percent. Skoda's volume grew by 5.2 percent and Seat's volume was up slightly at 0.2 percent.
VW Group last month began recalling 8.5 million VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat vehicles in Europe with rigged diesel engines to make them compliant with EU regulations on type approval. The company is still negotiating a fix with U.S. regulatory authorities.
Juergen Stackmann, VW brand sales, marketing and aftersales chief, said in the statement that the recall was one of the company's "biggest organizational challenges."
VW Group's sales growth turned negative for the first time in at least four and a half years in April 2015, raising pressure on the automaker to fix trouble spots laid bare by the shock ousting of long-time Chairman Ferdinand Piech.
The situation worsened after VW admitted in September it had rigged U.S. diesel emissions tests and up to around 11 million vehicles worldwide could have illegal software installed.
Earlier this month, Volkswagen postponed publication of its 2015 financial results and delayed its annual shareholders' meeting while it struggles to put an exact price on the emissions scandal.
Reuters contributed to this report