Volkswagen (VW) profits fell 30 per cent in the first three months of the year despite booming business in Europe and North America because sales dropped in China, where the German car maker is facing increasing competition from homegrown models.
After-tax profit fell to 4.7 billion euros (£4.1bn) from 6.7 billion euros (£5.9bn) in the first quarter of last year, the Wolfsburg-based company said.
The number of vehicles sold rose 7.5 per cent to 2.04 million. Revenue jumped by 21.5 per cent to 76.2 billion euros (£67bn) as VW saw strong demand and increased pricing power — meaning the willingness of customers to shell out more for its cars.
However, the company sold 14.5 per cent fewer vehicles in China, the world’s largest car market, where competitors such as BYD are rapidly developing new electric and hybrid vehicles at competitive price points and competing with foreign brands.
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Volkswagen said it was “confident” that an expanded model range and more China-specific technological features would mean deliveries to the country would “recover during the remainder of the year”.
The company said it plans to invest 1 billion euros in a new centre for electric car innovation headquartered in the Chinese city of Hefei.
VW said it was systematically pushing ahead with its move into electric vehicles, selling 141,000 battery-only cars during the quarter, or about 7 per cent of total deliveries.
It confirmed its profit outlook for the year and said strong demand for its products was reflected in an order book of 1.8 million vehicles in Europe, including 260,000 battery-electric vehicles