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by Tim Beissmann

Volkswagen AG has surpassed Ford Motor Co as the most profitable automotive manufacturer in 2010, with the German giant topping the Blue Oval by almost $3 billion.

Volkswagen’s net income increased more than sevenfold in 2010, up from 960 million euros ($1.3 billion) in 2009 to 6.84 billion euros ($9.25 billion) last year. Its revenue increased 21 percent to 126.8 billion euros ($171.6 billion).

Ford’s 2010 profit was $US6.56 billion ($6.47 billion), and General Motors reported a $US4.7 billion ($4.6 billion) net income. Toyota Motor Corp has forecast a 490 billion yen ($5.9 billion) profit for the financial year, ending March 31.

Volkswagen AG sold a record 7.2 million new vehicles around the world in 2010, and has predicted a sales increase of five percent for 2011 – which should take it beyond 7.56 million sales.

Much of the growth is expected to come from the developing BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Sales in China alone increased 37 percent to 1.92 million in 2010.

“We expect the group’s revenue and operating profit in 2011 to be higher than the previous year,” Volkswagen said in a statement.

“However, the continuing volatility in interest and exchange rate trends and commodities prices will weaken the positive volume effect.”

Volkswagen’s components suppliers have had trouble keeping pace with vehicle production, and VW’s Wolfsburg plant in Germany was forced to close for one day on January 31 to let supply catch up.

Over the weekend, Audi announced it was adding 2000 jobs to its production facilities as it attempts to keep up with record vehicle orders.

Late last year, Volkswagen AG committed to investing 51.6 billion euros ($69.8 billion) in its plants around the world before 2016. An additional 10.6 billion euros ($14.3 billion) will be invested into Volkswagen’s joint ventures in China.

In Australia in 2010, Volkswagen Group sales (including Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Skoda and Volkswagen) increased more than 23 percent compared with 2009 (52,671 vs 42,712)

The Volkswagen brand was the biggest winner, up from 30,087 in 2009 to 38,016. Audi added 1590 sales in 2010 for a total of 12,900, while Skoda, Bentley and Lamborghini each posted increases in excess of 30 percent.

All brands except Lamborghini were up in Australia in January 2011, pointing to another positive year for the German auto giant.




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