Volkswagen on Tuesday posted its first monthly fall
in sales in more than three years amid a slump in the European auto
Europe's biggest carmaker said sales of its flagship VW brand dropped by 0.8 per cent in March to 532,000, compared with the same month last year.
"There were mixed developments on markets worldwide for the Volkswagen passenger car brand," said sales chief Christian Klingler.
"As expected, markets are becoming more difficult, and in some cases decidedly more challenging," he said.
VW sales rose by 5.2 per cent in the first quarter - down from an increase of 9.1 per cent during the first two months of the year.
Deliveries in VW's key Western European market dropped by 10.3 per cent in the first quarter as the effects of eurozone debt crisis were felt in the region's car market.
Sales to South America dropped by 7.3 per cent led by a more than 5-per-cent slump in Brazil.
The decline was even more dramatic in Germany, with first-quarter sales tumbling by 15.1 per cent in Europe's biggest car market.
However, sales in the Asia-Pacific region and the United States continued to show solid gains.
While deliveries to Asia jumped by 20.9 per cent in the three months to the end of March, sales in North America grew by 7.3 per cent.
Also Tuesday, figures released by the world's leading premium carmaker BMW highlighted the continuing strong global demand for luxury autos.
Munich-based BMW said total sales of its stable of brands - its core BMW as well as compact Mini and top-of-the-range Rolls Royce - rose by 5.3 per cent worldwide during the first quarter.
Spearheading the increase was a 7-per-cent gain in deliveries of its BMW brand, which was boosted by demand in the US and China - the world's two biggest car markets.
BMW brand deliveries rose 4 per cent alone in March - the highest monthly level in the company's history, the group said.
A similar picture emerged for BMW rivals - Mercedes Benz and VW's luxury offshoot, Audi.
Daimler said last week sales of its luxury Mercedes-Benz saloons climbed 3.5 per cent in the first three months of the year, while Audi said Monday that first-quarter sales gained 6.8 per cent.
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