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Post-scandal Volkswagen sales show fall but other manufacturers also see slump

Published 05/11/2015

Volkswagen sales have fallen by 9.8% year-on-year
Volkswagen sales have fallen by 9.8% year-on-year

Volkswagen sales in the UK have fallen by 9.8% amid the diesel emissions scandal, official figures show.

There were 13,970 VW registrations last month, compared to 15,495 in October 2014, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

Seat and Skoda sales - two other VW brands - were down 32.2% and 3% respectively.

But other manufacturers also saw declines as for the industry as a whole fell by 1.1%, the first drop since early 2012.

This suggests the emissions crisis has not hit VW sales particularly hard yet.

Vauxhall sales were down by 16.4%, Nissan by 12.9% and Mitsubishi by 11.9%.

But year to date figures for the UK industry are up by 6.4% compared to this time in 2014.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: "The UK car market has gone through a period of unprecedented growth and, so far, 2015 has been a bumper year with the strongest performance since the recession.

"As expected, demand has now begun to level off but the sector is in a strong position, as low interest rates, consumer confidence and exciting new products combine to attract new car buyers. The current full-year growth forecast remains on track."

VW admitted in September that it fitted sophisticated software to cheat emissions tests for nitrogen oxides in 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide, including almost 1.2 million in the UK.

It set aside 6.7 billion euro (£4.8 billion) to deal with the controversy, and chief executive Martin Winterkorn resigned.

Earlier this week the scandal deepened as VW revealed it had found "irregularities" in carbon emissions which may affect 800,000 vehicles.

Luxury brands bucked the overall year-on-year trend, with Aston Martin sales up 40%, Bentley up 29%, and Porsche - part of Volkswagen Group - showing a 20.7% rise.

A motoring expert claimed the SMMT figures for Volkswagen were probably caused by industry conditions rather than the diesel scandal.

Jim Holder, editorial director of magazines Autocar and What Car?, said: "I think it's more about a slowdown in the industry as a whole.

"Volkswagen's main rivals Ford (minus 8.8%) and Vauxhall had about the same fall.

"I think (the emissions crisis has) undermined confidence and it will have an effect but I think it will be short-term as long as VW don't continue making headlines every day."

Mr Holder added that the 1.1% year-on-year fall is not concerning for the motor industry because it means there is a focus on "profits over volume".

He said: "Manufacturers have been pumping cheaper cars into Britain because of the strength of the euro, but they were not very profitable deals.

"Recently the discounts have been getting smaller and smaller.

"From the dealers I have heard from, they are not at all disappointed at today's news. They see this as good news because they will make better profits.

"We're strong enough to take a step back and concentrate on profits over volume."

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