WOLFSBURG -- Volkswagen Group said the operating margin at its VW brand had taken a hit last year from new emissions tests and its investment on electric vehicles. Profits at Audi and Bentley were also hit by Europe's new WLTP test cycle.
VW brand's margin slipped to 3.8 percent, down from 4.2 percent in 2017, VW Group said at its annual press conference here on Tuesday. VW had targeted a margin of 4 percent to 5 percent.
Audi's profitability slipped because of a 1.2 billion euro diesel-related charge and WLTP delays.
The operating loss at its Bentley brand fell to 288 million euros from a profit of 55 million euros a year earlier, hit by delays ramping up production of the new Continental GT and exchange rate effects. Bentley has also said it was too slow to ready its cars for WLTP.
The introduction of WLTP led to delays in production, which had caused a sales downturn, VW Group CEO Herbert Diess said at the automaker's annual press conference here on Tuesday.
"Audi was hit particularly hard. It will probably be the end of the first quarter before all variants are available again," Diess said.
Diess warned WLTP will continue to cause problems this year but said they would be less extensive than in 2018. VW had increased test bench capacity and reduced model complexity, he said.
WLTP replaced the NEDC cycle in Europe in September, introducing tougher, more realistic emissions testing.