Volkswagen Polo Facelift 14

Volkswagen Group sales fell for the first time in at least four and a half years in April, Reuters UK has reported. Group-wide deliveries dropped 1.3% year-on-year to 853,200 cars, as slowing momentum in China and a drop in Latin American sales outweighed gains in Europe.

According to company records checked by Reuters, the 12-brand group’s monthly sales have not fallen since December 2010. This April drop is said to reflect the 4.8% decline published earlier this week in core brand sales, which make up 60% of group deliveries.

“While we felt tailwinds in Western Europe and North America and could increase group deliveries strongly in some places, South America and Eastern Europe remain challenging, especially due to the market development in Russia,” Volkswagen sales chief Christian Klingler said in a statement.

Issues laid bare by the shock ouster of chairman Ferdinand Piech include low core brand profitability and low US-market performance – the latter attributed to a lack of models in lucrative crossover segments. China has been a steady group profit source, but demand there is slowing. CEO Martin Winterkorn has pledged to address these issues.

While regional sales figures for April weren’t revealed, the automaker said that deliveries in Brazil had slumped by 26.7% (at 200,400 vehicles) in the first four months of the year, while sales were up 0.2% (at 1.19 million units) in China. Earlier, the group had said that January-March sales in Brazil were down by 22.1% and up in China by 2%.