Last month, Volkswagen reported that its sales in the US tumbled 15 percent, posting its third consecutive monthly decline. Audi, on the other hand, posted its 61st consecutive monthly sales record in the US. Volkswagen suffered heavily as January sales plunged to 20,079 units, its weakest month over the last five years.
The company continues to battle with the recent emission scandals as an earlier plan was recently rejected by the California Air Resources Board. Its 2016 diesels remain grounded. Volkswagen America Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mark McNabb referred to the recent sales report as "the seasonal nature of the fleet business.”
According to McNaab, the retail business of Volkswagen dealers surged last month despite the winter storm that affected the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic during the said period. However, Volkswagen refused to disclose a breakdown between retail and fleet. Fleet sales, accordingly, plunged significantly.
Despite the release of a 2016 model last year, the sales of Passat mid-size sedan dipped 43 percent. Meanwhile, Jetta compact sedan sales lost 1.70 percent. Sales of the Golf compact lineup also fell 4.90 percent. The top gainer in terms of sales was one of Volkswagen's two crossover units, the Tiguan compact crossover that rallied 72 percent.
A total of 2,528 models were sold last month. However, the Touareg crossover declined 27 percent in sales. The weak sales performance was worsened by a freeze on diesel-powered engine sales, which is now on its fifth month. The said models accounted for over 20 percent of last year's overall sales.
Volkswagen imposed the freeze following the official breakout of the emission scandals in September. Volkswagen has dipped nearly 10 percent since then. About 16 percent of its January, 2015 sales were diesel-powered vehicles.
Audi Sustains Growth
The heightened demand for the revamped Q7 crossover greatly contributed to Audi's 2.70 percent gain in sales, posting a record of 11,850 models last month. Q7 sales increased by over 100 percent, hitting an all-time record of 2,336 units.
Audi America COO Mark Del Rosso expounded, "The new dynamic Audi Q7 produced an unprecedented level of demand right at launch.” He added that as its benchmark models like the Q7 and the all-new A4 will be arriving in the spring, the company is confident that sales will continue this year.
The Q7 highly offset the weak sales of some of Audi's leading vehicles. Sales of the A4 sedan tumbled 15 percent, A3 compact sedan slipped 9.90 percent, and the Q5 compact crossover fell 8.10 percent.
Like Volkswagen, Audi is also currently suffering because of a sales freeze for its diesel-powered models. However, the car maker is less affected because the said units only account for not more than 10 percent of Audi's sales in the US. Audi is expected to submit a plan to CARB on how it will resolve 80,000 of its 3 L diesel V-6 engine vehicles.
This is in line with the commitment it made months ago that it will revise the involved cars and will apply for new US government emission certification. In November, regulators confirmed that the 3 L diesels had three emission control software devices that were not disclosed. Additionally, under the US emissions regulations, one of the three devices is considered as an illegal defeat device.
The affected vehicles are the diesel-powered Audi A6, A7, and A8 sedans and Q5 and Q7 crossovers along with the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne. Audi has not yet released any statement regarding the new plan and applications.