June 14, 2012 / 11:20 AM / 6 years ago

Volkswagen shrugs off West Europe decline with monthly sales rise

Shareholders of German carmaker Volkswagen are pictured in a showroom during the annual shareholders meeting in Hamburg on April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

BERLIN (Reuters) - German car maker Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) increased group sales 7.8 percent in May as sturdy demand from China, the United States and eastern Europe offset an accelerating drop in VW’s core western European markets.

Deliveries of passenger cars, sport-utility vehicles and commercial vans across VW’s automotive group totaled 763,800 last month compared with 708,800 a year earlier, the company said on Thursday.

Five-month auto sales at VW, which includes luxury brand Audi and Czech division Skoda, shrank 6.4 percent in western Europe excluding Germany. That compares with a decline of 5.9 percent after four months and 4.7 percent in the first quarter.

“Despite the generally positive trend, we continue to focus very closely on the growing uncertainties in the euro zone,” sales chief Christian Klingler was quoted as saying in a statement.

VW, which surpassed Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) as the world’s second biggest car maker last year, wants to clinch the top spot no later than 2018. The manufacturer is targeting 10 million auto sales that year, compared with 8.3 million in 2011.

Wolfsburg-based VW reported an 8.4 percent gain in five-month global sales to 3.65 million vehicles. Earlier on Thursday, the company released preliminary figures showing year-to-date sales were up 9.3 percent to 3.704 million.

Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by David Holmes

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