FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen Group said it delivered 10.8 million vehicles to customers last year, up 0.9 percent from 2018.
VW Group's divisions include the VW, Audi, Skoda, Seat, Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti car brands, as well as the Scania and MAN and heavy truck makers.
The automaker had earlier forecast that 2019 vehicle sales would be level with 2018. The company plans to release detailed sales numbers for last year on Tuesday.
CEO Herbert Diess issued the revised outlook during an investor presentation in New York on Thursday.
The group reiterated it expected an operating return on sales of between 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent before special items for last year. VW is due to release 2019 earnings on March 17.
Global automakers scaled down production last year when sales started to decline in some regions due to slower economic growth and trade friction.
VW’s higher outlook adds to evidence the slump may have been less pronounced than initially feared, at least for some companies. Demand for SUVs and crossovers remained robust and sales of electric and hybrid cars accelerated.
Some luxury automakers have also reported higher sales. Daimler earlier Thursday reported a 1.3 percent sales gain last year at its Mercedes-Benz brand to a record 2.34 million vehicles. BMW said this week 2019 was a record year for car sales and this year could be even better.
VW Group also said on Thursday that it would invest 7 billion euros ($7.8 billion) to create a dedicated software organization to raise in-house software development to 60 percent from 10 percent.
The software organization starts operation this month, according to the investor presentation.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report.