WASHINGTON -- Volkswagen of America officials blamed challenging conditions and competition in the mid-sized and compact sedan segments for a 10 percent drop in April sales for the VW brand, ending a streak of monthly sales gains that began in September 2010.
U.S. deliveries of the Passat fell 10 percent to 9,069 units, though the mid-sized sedan's sales for the year are up 1 percent over last year, at 34,978. Sales of the Jetta compact sedan dropped 19 percent to 11,110 and are also down 9 percent for the year, with 43,469 units sold.
VW Group sales -- including Audi, Porsche and Bentley -- were down 3 percent for the month.
Jonathan Browning, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, told reporters today that his namesake brand faced a heavy burden with industrywide sales of mid-sized sedans up just 3 percent through March.
"In a segment where four of the six major competitors are fairly new, that's a fairly small increase," Browning said.
Browning did not name any models that have grabbed sales from VW in the mid-sized sedan segment, but the Passat goes head-to-head against the Honda Accord and Ford Fusion, both of which have sold better since being redesigned for the 2013 model year.
The drop in April sales ends a 31-month streak of gains for the VW brand, which doubled its annual U.S. sales between 2009 and 2012. The company has a goal of selling 800,000 VW-brand vehicles annually in the United States by 2018, up from 438,133 last year.
At Audi, the second-largest brand under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, sales rose 14 percent to 13,157 units in April.
The luxury brand was led by an ongoing surge in sales of the Q5 and Q7 crossovers. Audi sold 3,241 units of the Q5 in April, up 32 percent, and 1,183 units of the Q7, up 33 percent.
For the year to date, Audi has sold 47,343 units, 16 percent more than last year.