WOLFSBURG, Germany -- Volkswagen AG said on Wednesday the war in Iraq so far has had no noticeable effect on the global auto industry.
"Until now there have been no noticeable movements either upwards or downwards," said VW Chief Executive Bernd Pischetsrieder at a suppliers fair.
He also said there had been no "noticeable" backlash from consumers in the United States, the world's biggest car market, against German cars despite the German government's opposition to the Iraq war and its often harsh criticism of the U.S. administration.
Germany's VW, BMW, Porsche and Mercedes Benz depend on the U.S. for about 25 percent of their sales and a greater proportion of profits and some experts had said U.S. consumers might boycott German autos as a protest against Germany's political stance.
Most companies and analysts expect car demand to fall about two percent this year in both Europe and in the U.S., provided the Iraq war is not prolonged and does not have a major negative impact on consumer sentiment.
Pischetsrieder said auto markets had been volatile even without the war, so making an estimate was very difficult.
"We should be able to say more in about six weeks," said Pischetsrieder.
He said that incentives used by the carmakers in the U.S. to boost sales were distorting demand there but that VW was prepared for volatility.
VW, at a low point in its product cycle compared to rivals such as France's PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault, does not expect this year to match last year's operating profit level even without the effect of the Iraq war.