Volkswagen Brand's U.S. Sales Drop 15%, Missing Estimate

  • TrueCar projected a January decline of 9.8% for the brand
  • Deliveries have now fallen for three consecutive months

Volkswagen AG’s namesake brand reported a decline in U.S. sales for the third straight month as the automaker continues to face fallout from cheating on government emissions tests.

The brand’s deliveries slid 15 percent in January, Volkswagen said in a statement Tuesday, after dropping 9.1 percent in December and 25 percent in November. Last month’s decrease was wider that the 9.8 percent estimate by TrueCar Inc. The German automaker today also announced it would begin implementing technical solutions for some of its recalled diesel engines in Europe.

Volkswagen stopped deliveries of most diesel-powered vehicles after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed in September that the company admitted to installing devices meant to defeat emissions tests. Since then, the automaker has stepped up spending on incentives in an effort to draw customers to U.S. dealers for its gasoline-powered models.

“Some of their decline is not being able to sell diesel engines,” Stephanie Brinley, an analyst at IHS Automotive, said in a telephone interview. “It’s an impact on volume as much as the residual consumer impressions.”

The recent drop in U.S. deliveries has hurt the automaker’s efforts to move past Toyota Motor Corp. to claim the worldwide sales crown, a title it had hoped to take by 2018. Volkswagen had planned to increase U.S. sales with models such as the Tiguan and Touareg sport utility vehicles and cars like the Jetta. The Tiguan was one of few bright spots last month, with a gain of 72 percent to 2,528, a record January for the SUV.

“We are encouraged by the strong performance of the Tiguan,” Mark McNabb, chief operating officer at Volkswagen of America, said in the statement. “January sales numbers were down due to the seasonal nature of the fleet business. Despite that and the weather conditions in the Northeast portion of the country, Volkswagen dealers improved in terms of retail business.”

Volkswagen’s American depository receipts declined 2.4 percent to $25.58 at 2:30 p.m. in New York. They fell 28 percent from Sept. 18, when the emissions cheating was revealed, through Monday.

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