We can see storm clouds about to ruin this optimistic blue sky…
Unsurprisingly, the emissions scandal has brought Volkswagen more bad news this month. Sales of VW products in the UK have dropped by almost 20% and in the US they’ve plummeted 25%. Official findings from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that the number of registered VW cars last month slumped from November 2014′s 16,196 to a much lower 12,958.
The German carmaker has said new sales have slowed after the emissions scandal became public, which was then made worse by the early-November admission that VW had also lied about CO2 emissions in 800,000 vehicles. The drop in sales was also seen in the majority of VW’s other car brands; with SEAT down 23.8%, Skoda 11% and Audi sales dropping 4.4%.
On the subject of people shying away from buying VW products, chief of VW’s works council Bernd Osterloh had this to say: “There is caution in buying. The CO2 issue has triggered a greater crisis of confidence than the nitrogen issue.” He also added that “employment is safe provided we are selling cars. If we sell no cars, it will get relatively difficult”.
Over 10 billion euros has been wiped off VW’s share price since the admissions began in September. It’s also seen long-time CEO Martin Winterkorn resign, as well as several senior members of management being suspended or fired.
Despite the scandal, the Volkswagen Golf was still in the top ten best-selling cars of November, sitting at number four. Audi, one of VW’s brands, was also in the list, with the Audi A3 at number ten. This positive news may ease the German brand a little, and the fact that November wasn’t a great sales month for other carmakers, such as Citroen, Fiat and Nissan.
November’s car sales as a whole were up 3.8% on last year’s figures, which is a positive turn after the 1.1% drop last month. Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, 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”.
Last month has been the best-telling of the impact of the emissions scandal so far. Even though it broke in September, most cars are delivered several weeks after the purchase is arranged and finalised. December should be an even better indication of where VW’s sales (and future) are headed.