LOS ANGELES -- Volkswagen is not counting on a significant improvement in its three biggest auto markets this year, Europe's largest carmaker said on Wednesday.
"We are not assuming that the volumes in Germany will change," said VW chief Bernd Pischetsrieder in Los Angeles.
He added that the trend in sales in the United States and Chinese markets will not change dramatically from last year.
Pischetsrieder was attending the Los Angeles car show, where the group is premiering its new, revamped Jetta.
The relaunch of VW's compact sedan, sold as the Bora outside the United States and based on the group's flagship Golf hatchback, is a key element in an expected turnaround of its business.
With a total of 91,790 Jetta sedans and wagons sold in the United States during 2004, the model contributed nearly 36 percent of all VW brand sales there last year.
Its U.S. sales have been besieged though by the steep rise in the euro-dollar exchange rate, an aging stable of models and an unforgiving price war in the market.
While the company has done its best to steer clear of incentives in order to preserve margins and resale values as much as possible, it has cost VW severely.
Car sales dropped by more than 15 percent in the past year to just 256,111 vehicles, shy even of the 260,000 sold by its German premium rival BMW.
Volkswagen, which started hedging its dollar exposure relatively late, expects to post an operating loss of around 1 billion euros ($1.32 billion) in North America for 2004 and said it was not optimistic about breaking even this year despite the scheduled launch of the new Jetta and the larger Passat.
For the current year, VW finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch said last month the group has hedged around 60 percent of its U.S. revenues exposed to currency fluctuations.