FRANKFURT -- Sales of Volkswagen's key Jetta model in the United States dropped by over 31 percent in May to just 7,912 units from 11,494 a year earlier, the carmaker said late on Wednesday.
Of the May total, 6,024 units were the new, relaunched Jetta sedan -- VW's best-selling model in the U.S.
"We just beat our target of 6,000," a spokesman for the company said.
In 2004, VW sold a total of 82,221 Jettas, representing over 32 percent of overall VW brand sales in the United States. The next generation Jetta was launched in March there.
Sales of its next most popular model, the Passat, plunged 66 percent to just 2,449 units from more than 7,200 in the previous year's month.
The spokesman said the poor performance was due to a phase out of the mid-sized car ahead of the coming Passat relaunch in late summer.
After the group's operating loss ballooned to 907 million euros in North America in 2004 from 168 million a year earlier, Volkswagen is hoping a surge in demand for its revamped Jetta and Passat will help drag it out of the red.
Last month, VW's higher-margin vehicles like its Touareg sport-utility vehicle and its Phaeton luxury sedan also suffered steep fall-offs in demand.
Touareg sales fell 27 percent to 1,311 vehicles, while VW managed to only sell 65 units of the Phaeton after 127 a year earlier.
Sales of its retro-styled New Beetle dropped 33 percent to 3,343 cars.