Volkswagen finally loses some steam
The newest volume-seller in the VW lineup, the redesigned Beetle, posted a 59 percent sales increase in January between the coupe and convertible models.
After three straight years of double-digit U.S. sales gains, Volkswagen Group began 2013 with a 9 percent advance -- its first monthly increase below 10 percent since January 2011.
The automaker sold 29,018 VW brand vehicles in January, up 7 percent from the same month last year. Audi sales rose 8 percent to 10,056, while Porsche soared 32 percent to 3,358.
Throughout 2012, the VW brand -- the top-selling division for the German automaker -- routinely posted sales increases of 30 percent or more. Volkswagen of America CEO Jonathan Browning warned at the Detroit auto show last month that the brand could not grow at such a brisk pace indefinitely.
He echoed that sentiment today, telling reporters his focus was on sustained growth. Still, after a month in which Volkswagen Group was outpaced by each of the Detroit 3 in year-over-year sales, Browning added that he still expects the group "to outpace the industry this year."
The Volkswagen brand's climb in recent years was spurred by the introduction of a redesigned Jetta in 2010 and a redesigned Passat in 2011. The newest volume-seller in the lineup, the redesigned Beetle, posted a 59 percent sales increase in January between the coupe and convertible versions. Overall Beetle sales of 2,232 were one-quarter of Passat volume and one-fifth of the Jetta's.
Audi posted a record January despite its slowdown. The luxury brand's drop into single-digit gains after 13 months mainly stemmed from the A4, up 3 percent, and a 60 percent decrease in sales of the A3, to 231. The hatchback is being phased out in favor of the A3 sedan, to be introduced in the United States as a 2014 model.
Audi executives have said the brand is focusing on its most-profitable cars. Sales of its largest, most-expensive volume models – such as the A6, A7, A8 and Q7 lines -- rose 13 percent for the month and now account for one-third of total Audi volume.
VW Group came out of the recession with a 21 percent sales gain in 2010 and increases of 23 percent and 30 percent in the next two years. Last year's increase was aided by the addition of Porsche to the VW brand stable.
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