VW Group of America reports a 23% sales gain for 2011
Volkswagen Group of America finished 2011 with U.S. sales of 443,840 vehicles -- up 23 percent over 2010 -- thanks to brisk sales of key VW models and a milestone year for Audi.
The group's December sales for all three brands -- Audi, VW and Bentley -- topped December 2010 by 31 percent, or 45,475 units.
Audi reported its best U.S. sales year ever in 2011 with sales climbing 16 percent to 117,561 vehicles. U.S. light-vehicle sales for VW division grew 26 percent in 2011 to 324,402 units, while Bentley had a 31 percent sales gain over 2010.
"We continue to see growth in the U.S. auto sector and we see consumers engaging in the marketplace in a positive way," said Volkswagen Group of America CEO Jonathan Browning. Low interest rates, combined with high resale values, are helping to drive the year-over-year sales gains, he added.
"It is a good time to be purchasing vehicles," Browning said.
Despite ongoing volatility in the global markets, he said the company expects 2012 to be a strong year for U.S. sales with VW forecasting industry light-vehicles sales of 13.5 million to 14 million.
The VW Group captured 3.5 percent of the U.S. market last year, up from 3.1 percent for all of 2010.
VW has set ambitious sales goals for its U.S. business. It aims to outpace the industry with double-digit sales growth annually over the next few years in an effort to hit a yearly U.S. sales target of 1 million vehicles by 2018. That goal includes U.S. sales of 800,000 for the VW brand and 200,000 for Audi.
Globally, the carmaker wants 10 million vehicle sales by 2018. It is rapidly expanding in two of the world's largest auto markets -- China and the United States -- in a bid to surpass General Motors and Toyota Motor Corp. as the world's largest carmaker.
To support its U.S. expansion, VW in May 2011 opened a $1 billion plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., to build the redesigned 2012 VW Passat, which went on sale in September.
VW division posted a 36 percent sales gain in December over the previous year, making last month its best December since 1972.
VW sold 22,779 Passat sedans in 2011, doubling last year's sale of the mid-sized car. Many buyers opting for the turbodiesel version, a shift Browning described as a "breakthrough" for the segment.
Diesel models accounted for 22 percent of all VW brand sales in the United States last year.
The Jetta sedan also had a banner year with sales up 55 percent to 150,515 units in 2011. VW also posted double-digit sales increases for the Tiguan and Touareg SUVs last year.
VW Golf sales grew by 23 percent to 17,839 units in 2011, while VW Beetle sales sank 61 percent to 6,468 last year, the company said.
Audi's December sales set an all-time record: 12,655 vehicles, a 20 percent gain over last year.
Sales of the recently redesigned Audi A6 were up 28 percent for the year, while the A8 had the largest year-over-year sales, shooting up 275 percent in 2011.
Meanwhile, supplies of some popular Audi models are constrained. The company said its days supply for the Q5 crossover and Q7 SUV are in the single digits nationally.