Volkswagen Australia says it doesn’t believe negative stigma about the company relating to the ongoing ‘dieselgate’ saga is to blame for the brand’s first negative sales result of the year.
Volkswagen sales were down 6.0 per cent last month compared with October 2014 to 4480 units. It’s the first time Volkswagen hasn’t achieved year-on-year growth since December 2014, and it’s the brand’s biggest deficit since November 2014.
October was the first full sales month with dieselgate in national and global headlines, with the story breaking in September.
Volkswagen Australia communications general manager Karl Gehling admitted the decision to suspend sales of diesel-powered Jetta, CC, Passat B7, Tiguan and Caddy vehicles hurt the October total to some degree, but said the overall result had more to do with the Caddy and T5 vans being deep in run-out mode.
“Obviously we suspended sales of our diesel models, which we announced a couple of weeks ago, but you’ll note that the passenger vehicle side of the business is actually up on last year, but the commercial vehicle side is down,” Gehling said.
“We’re in run-out for Caddy and T5, and we’ll be launching new models in about a month, so there are a couple of other factors beyond suspension of sales.”
Volkswagen sold 3121 passenger cars last month, up 4.8 per cent over October 2014. SUV sales fell 15.8 per cent to 583, while light commercial sales plummeted 30.9 per cent to 737.
Gehling denied that negative news about the brand and buyers’ perceptions of the company could be blamed for the October result.
“Given that sales are slightly up on passenger cars from last year, I’d say not.”
Volkswagen’s sister brand Skoda avoided a similar decline, with sales up 16.4 per cent in October compared with the same month last year.
The industry as a whole performed well last month, with sales climbing 3.4 per cent to 94,321.
Read our full October 2015 VFACTS sales wrap here.