Volkswagen Deliveries Decline as Diesel Scandal Hurts Main Brand

  • VW nameplate was only division to post February sales drop
  • Deliveries fell in North America, Latin America, Russia

Volkswagen AG’s deliveries fell 1.2 percent in February, dragged down by the impact of the diesel-emissions scandal on the company’s namesake brand.

Group deliveries declined to 693,300 cars and trucks from 701,500 a year earlier, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based manufacturer said Friday in a statement. Demand fell 4.7 percent at the VW nameplate, the only division to sell fewer vehicles globally last month. Two-month companywide deliveries rose 1.4 percent to 1.54 million.

Michael Horn, head of the VW brand in the U.S., left the carmaker Thursday after staying on for six months at dealers’ request following the scandal’s revelation. Volkswagen has yet to agree with U.S. regulators on what to do with cars equipped with systems that manipulate emissions tests on diesel engines, which the company was seeking to promote as a clean-burning alternative to gasoline. In contrast, the recall is already under way in Europe, where the company’s deliveries rose last month.

“VW executives have mismanaged the problems in a way that makes the brand untouchable to the socially responsible Millennial generation in America,” Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, said in an e-mail.

Companywide North American sales slid 2.5 percent in February, pulled down by a 7.2 percent drop in the U.S., while a 36 percent plunge in Brazil led to a 26 percent decline in South America. Asian-Pacific deliveries fell 3.4 percent as the region’s lunar new year holiday shifted to earlier in the month than in 2015. Russian sales dropped 17 percent.

Besides the VW car brand, group delivery figures include the high-end Audi and Porsche nameplates, mass-market Skoda and Seat marques, VW commercial vans and MAN and Scania trucks.

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