GENEVA -- Volkswagen expects conditions in the world's major auto markets to remain challenging this year, Europe's largest carmaker said late on Monday in Geneva.
"Not much will change in Europe," VW Chief Executive Bernd Pischetsrieder told reporters on the sidelines of a company event prior to the start of the Geneva car show.
"In the U.S., the question isn't so much about the market (size), but rather the conditions," he added, referring to the continuing all-out incentive war waged among carmakers in the United States.
Pischetsrieder said he would not participate in the rebate frenzy, preferring to sacrifice car sales in favor of improving the bottom line.
"We're in the business to make money, not to sell volumes," he said. "The first issue is that we're profitable. The volume isn't important -- it makes no sense to buy the market."
The VW CEO said that the Chinese car market, Volkswagen's most important foreign market, was characterized by an even more brutal race to cut prices in order to boost customer sales.
"Chinese car prices have dropped faster than in the U.S.," he said.
Pischetsrieder declined to comment specifically on group vehicle sales in the first two months of 2005, but he did say that deliveries were "fully in line with plan."
Asked about the impact of higher steel prices on Volkswagen earnings, the CEO said "there were absolutely none last year" but would not venture a forecast for 2005.