Volkswagen Brand's U.S. Sales Drop Is Smallest Since December

  • April deliveries decline 9.7 percent, automaker reports
  • Company seeks to regain consumer trust after diesel scandal

Volkswagen AG’s namesake brand said its April U.S. sales fell 9.7 percent, the smallest drop since December, in a sign that the automaker may be starting to win back consumer trust after regulators said in September that it cheated on diesel-emissions tests.

The brand’s sales slid to 27,112, Volkswagen said in a statement Tuesday. Four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg on average estimated a 10 percent drop. The monthly decrease was the sixth straight and included declines of 8.6 percent for the Jetta line, the brand’s top-selling models, and 15 percent for the Passat.

“While overall sales reflect a decline, this is due in large part to an intentional decrease in fleet sales,” Mark McNabb, chief operating officer for Volkswagen of America, said in the statement.

Volkswagen stopped selling most of its diesel-powered vehicles, forcing it to rely mainly on its gasoline-powered models, after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California regulators caught the company rigging engines to evade emissions tests. Last month the automaker put an $18.2 billion price tag on the scandal’s provisions, leading to the biggest loss in the German automaker’s history while giving it a path toward assessing the full financial impact of the crisis.

At its annual press conference held last week, Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller asked for more time and patience as the company works through the scandal’s repercussions. He laid out plans to expand in electric cars and mobility services, saying that “Volkswagen is far more than crisis.” The shares closed 8.8 percent higher in April, the largest monthly gain since November.

Volkswagen’s American depositary receipts fell 3.7 percent to $30.56 at 10:58 a.m. in New York, as the wider markets declined. The ADRs were down 13 percent from Sept. 18, when the emissions cheating was revealed, through Monday.

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