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Volkswagen, which last year vied for the title of world’s largest carmaker, says it is on track to beat that performance with a new annual sales record — despite trouble getting vehicles certified for new European emissions tests.
Sales head Christian Dahlheim said Friday that “we are confident” 2018 will end with a figure slightly above the previous record from 2017, when the company sold 10.74 million vehicles.
November sales figures left Volkswagen with 9.92 million vehicles sold during the first 11 months. That was up 1.8 percent over the same period last year, when the company sold 9.74 million vehicles across its brands, which include Audi, Skoda, SEAT, and Porsche.
Volkswagen faced delays getting cars certified under tougher emissions regulations that went into effect Sept. 1, hurting sales in the period after. Dahlheim said the effect from those troubles was already fading.
Last year, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance disputed the title of world’s largest automaker with Volkswagen by selling 10.6 million vehicles and saying Volkswagen boosted its figure by including trucks that shouldn’t count as cars.
Volkswagen says volume records are no longer a top priority. A key earnings target instead is how much profit it makes on those sales. Dahlheim said that high production volumes nonetheless enable Volkswagen to achieve economies of scale, which means gaining efficiency by spreading production costs over more vehicles.
Former CEO Martin Winterkorn once set becoming the sales leader as a key business goal. Winterkorn resigned in 2015 after Volkswagen was caught using illegal software to cheat on U.S. diesel emissions tests.
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