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Volkswagen sees slump in car sales in wake of diesel emissions scandal

Published 04/12/2015

The drop in sales comes after Volkswagen admitted that it fitted sophisticated software to cheat diesel emissions tests
The drop in sales comes after Volkswagen admitted that it fitted sophisticated software to cheat diesel emissions tests

Volkswagen car sales fell by almost 20% last month in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal, official figures show.

There were 12,958 VW registrations last month, compared to 16,196 in November 2015, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

This 19.99% decrease comes after 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.

Sales of other VW brands are also down: Seat by 23.83%, Skoda by 10.98% and Audi by 4.41%.

The SMMT said the car industry as a whole saw an increase in registrations of 3.8%, leading motoring experts to conclude that the emissions crisis is hitting VW sales.

The German car-maker has set aside 6.7 billion euro (£4.8 billion) to deal with the controversy, and chief executive Martin Winterkorn resigned.

The manufacturer accepts the defeat device software was used to rig pollution tests in the US.

But a laboratory test commissioned by the BBC's Panorama programme reportedly found that VW diesel cars fitted with the software can also cheat European emissions tests.

The scandal deepened further last month when VW revealed it had found " irregularities" in carbon emissions which may affect 800,000 vehicles.

Jim Holder, editorial director of magazines Autocar and What Car?, said he believed VW's sales figures were a direct result of the diesel crisis.

"There's a lot of evidence they have lost the trust of the buyers and that is starting to come through," he said.

"They are going to face several difficult months now while they have to rebuild.

"There is no hiding it any more. They have to take it on the chin and accept that the customers have a lot of choice of very good cars.

"If you lose trust, it's very easy to turn to your second choice and think it's only 2% less desirable than the Volkswagen Group car I wanted, I trust that brand far more, I'm going to go with that one."

Mr Holder said it was "hard to say" how long VW's sales figures would be down, but he expected the manufacturer to eventually recover because its investment in research and development means its latest models are "still some of our best picks".

The overall UK market returned to growth following October's decline, which was the first since 2012.

Some 178,876 cars were registered in November, up by 3.8% from 172,327 in the same month last year.

Year-to-date sales are up by 6.2%, from 2,310,237 to 2,453,426.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "November's figures come as a reminder of the strength of the UK car market, as low interest rates and competitive finance deals continue to attract consumers to new car ownership.

"We have been expecting a levelling off in demand for some time now - a development that is being realised following an unprecedented three-and-a-half years of non-stop growth."

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