Volkswagen brand's U.S. sales rose 28percent in May to 38,657 vehicles, a sign that despite delivering another strong sales month, its momentum could be slowing.
May's results were the first time since September that its monthly sales growth slipped below 30 percent. In January the brand reported a 48-percent increase over the same month of the previous year.
The mid-sized Passat once again led the charge, helping VW post its best May sales since 1973.
Sales of the mid-sized car surpassed the 10,000 mark for a third month in a row and helped offset declines on other models, such as the Tiguan and Jetta.
Sales for the Touareg and Golf were up for May; VW sold 3,002 Beetles, the model's best sales month since 2002, the company said. Through May, brand sales were up 36 percent to 170,555.
"It's clear that the recovery in the industry is continuing," said Jonathan Browning, CEO of VW Group of America. But he cautioned that the second half of the year could be more challenging. And with gas prices falling, buyers demand could start shifting toward a heavier mix of trucks -- at least for the short-term.
Browning said VW is sticking with a more conservative forecast of 13.9 million U.S. light-vehicle sales for 2012. He added that the month started out strong, softened a bit through the middle and picked up again over Memorial Day weekend.
Sustaining the brand's growth in the United States is crucial for VW as it strives to hit its ambitious goal of 800,000 in U.S. sales by 2018. Last year, the German automaker's namesake brand reported sales of 324,402, up 26 percent over the prior year. To reach its goal, VW will have to more than double 2011's sales results within the next six years.