Volkswagen AG ended 2013 with a slight decline in U.S. sales for its biggest-volume brands, as Audi and Porsche's strong gains were offset by a 7 percent drop for the VW marque.
Audi of America posted a 15 percent sales increase in December, propelling the Audi brand to its fourth straight annual sales record. Audi's 2013 U.S. volume of 158,061 units was nearly double the 82,716 units it sold in 2009.
"Audi is no longer just a cold-weather brand that does well maybe in the Northeast and the colder climates," Audi of America COO Mark Del Rosso told reporters today after snowstorms slammed the eastern United States. "Clearly, this is happening across the nation."
Porsche Cars North America sold a record 42,323 units for the year, up 21 percent, after a December in which it posted a 10 percent sales increase.
But the year ended on a sour note for Volkswagen Group of America. Its namesake VW brand had its worst month of the year in December, a 23 percent decline.
Stemming that slide will be the responsibility of Michael Horn, previously the global aftersales chief at Volkswagen AG. He was dispatched to take over for former Volkswagen Group of America CEO Jonathan Browning, who left the company at year end.
Executives hope the next-generation Golf hatchback family, which goes on sale in the spring, will help reverse the decline.
Audi is confident about further growth in 2014. Audi of America President Scott Keogh told reporters that "without a doubt," the brand will set another U.S. sales record in 2014, as it launches the A3 compact sedan and Q3 compact crossover.
Combined, VW, Audi and Porsche had an average transaction price of $36,433 in December, up 6 percent, according to car-buying service TrueCar.com.
That is partly a sign of their resistance to discounting. The group had the highest average transaction price of the world's eight biggest automakers, ahead of Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, which do brisk business selling high-priced pickups.
"We're not buying our business," Keogh said. "We're earning it."