Volkswagen (IW 1000/8) brand sales in the U.S. climbed 24% last month, the first gain in more than a year, as Europe’s biggest automaker emerged from a sales slump triggered by the emissions-cheating scandal that was revealed in September 2015.
The brand sold 29,672 vehicles in November, compared with 23,882 a year earlier, the company said on December 1. It was the first monthly increase since October 2015.
Volkswagen far exceeded the average of four estimates compiled by Bloomberg for a 6% gain. Passat sales more than doubled, Golf models rose 58% and the Beetle posted a 39% gain.
Analysts had predicted deep discounts and promotions would help Volkswagen halt its yearlong sales decline in the U.S.
The automaker agreed to pay an industry-record $16.5 billion in civil litigation fines in the U.S. after admitting last year that its diesel models were outfitted with a “defeat device” that filtered exhaust only when cars were being tested. The carmaker is also on the hook for outstanding civil claims from several states and as much as $9.2 billion in investor lawsuits in Germany.
Shortly after disclosure of the cheating, which let vehicles spew as much as 40 times the legal amount of emissions, VW poured on discounts and the brand’s deliveries rose less than 1 percent in September and October last year. Diesel models accounted for more than 20% of the VW brand’s U.S. volume before sales of the vehicles were halted because of the scandal.
While Volkswagen’s market share in Europe continues to shrink, it’s benefiting from a leading position in China and a tax cut that has stoked buying there since last year.
By Gabrielle Coppola