Volkswagen Set Sales Record in 2008

Sales in Russia and India doubled while sales in China increased 12.5%.

In 2008 Volkswagen both expanded its market share in key markets the U.S. and Germany and set sales records. And the company is aiming for another banner year in 2009, said executives at the North American International Auto Show, where VW unveiled its first two-seater roadster.

VW sold 6.23 million vehicles worldwide last year, up 0.6%.

In Germany, VW delivered 1.06 million vehicles, up 0.4% from the previous year, while the overall market fell 1.8%. At the same time, VW's market share grew slightly to 33.6%.

In China, VW sold 1.02 million vehicles or 12.5% more than in 2007, while its sales in Brazil increased 8.9% to 633,000 vehicles.

Sales in Russia and India doubled.

Although 2008 was one of the toughest years for a long time in the U.S. VW, which is opening a new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, nevertheless had "a good year" here. VW sold 314,500 vehicles in the U.S., down 4.5% from the previous year, but the company "held its ground well in the downturn of the overall market," which declined 18% in the steepest decline in 29 years and to the lowest level since 1992.

VW unveiled its Concept BlueSport roadster, but will not produce the diesel-powered sportscar likely until the economy recovers. "When we make a decision, it will be (in production) three years later," said chairman Martin Winterkorn said.

VW boasts the BlueSport, which at a glance resembles the Porsche Boxter in a nod to VW's new owner, can reach speeds of 100 kilometers per hour in just 6.6 seconds, but consumes only 4.3 liters of fuel per 100 kilomters.

Porsche announced last week it had taken over Volkswagen, the biggest European car manufacturer, after purchasing more than 50% of VW shares.

VW said in August that it had overtaken Ford to become the world's third biggest automaker behind General Motors and Toyota.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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