VW slips 9.1% in December; Passat decline offsets Golf, Tiguan

VW’s December sales performance marked an improvement from November, when sales plunged 25 percent to 23,882 vehicles on tight inventories and the continued freeze on diesel sales after the Sept. 18 revelation that VW was cheating on emissions tests.

Volkswagen of America’s sales fell last month as a major drop in Passat midsize sedan sales offset strong Tiguan compact crossover deliveries.

The embattled German brand sold 30,956 vehicles last month, off 9.1 percent from December 2014. As its diesel-sales freeze dragged through its third full month, the brand’s full-year sales totaled 349,440, a 4.8 percent decline from 2014.

Even so, VW’s December sales performance marked an improvement from November, when sales plunged 25 percent to 23,882 vehicles on tight inventories and the continued freeze on diesel sales after the Sept. 18 revelation that VW was cheating on emissions tests.

Passat sales plummeted 56 percent last month, even with the re-engineered 2016 model in showrooms. Meanwhile, Tiguan sales more than doubled to 4,900 units, the nameplate’s best month on record, while the Golf family of compact cars -- including the Golf, GTI hot hatch, e-Golf electric car and Golf SportWagen -- saw sales rise 30 percent.

“We are very pleased with the strong Golf family results and record-setting performance of the Tiguan in 2015,” said Mark McNabb, COO of Volkswagen of America. “As we look towards 2016, we are committed to rebuilding trust in the brand.”

The results come a day after the U.S. government sued Volkswagen over its diesel emissions cheating violations. VW brand chief Herbert Diess is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech tonight at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

You can reach Ryan Beene at rbeene@crain.com -- Follow Ryan on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RyanBeeneAN

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