Sales of Volkswagen motors remained stuck in the slow lane last month as the German car-making giant struggles to overcome its diesel emissions scandal.
Global deliveries were down 2.7 per cent in March, the 16th drop in the past 18 months, extending the fall in first-quarter sales to 1.3 per cent. However, the decline last month was less severe than the 4.7 per cent fall suffered in February.
Sales of the Volkswagen brand fell 8.2 per cent in Germany to 53,400 vehicles. Sales in China rose by 3.6 per cent to 245,400. They were up 9 per cent in central and Eastern Europe at 18,900.
Volkswagen faces fines, recall costs and civil damages over cars that were rigged to defeat diesel emissions tests in the US and other countries. Up to 11 million cars are affected.
The company, whose other brands include Audi, Skoda, and Seat, has apologised and says it will fix the cars. Its supervisory board is due to discuss the potential costs of the scandal on 22 April.
Christian Stadler, a professor of strategic management at Warwick Business School, who has researched the car industry, said: “While the numbers are down, it is actually a far cry from what one would have expected. Of course, that the VW brand has been hit more than others is no surprise, but, considering the furore of ‘dieselgate’ we have definitely not witnessed the demise of the Volkswagen Group that some expected.
“There has been a downturn, but it is not a massive one. In fact, as past history of scandals has shown, people are often quick to move on and forget.”