VW slips for 5th straight month, Audi rolls

The drop in VW’s March U.S. sales was fueled by the Passat midsize sedan, down 22 percent, and the Jetta compact sedan, off 4.8 percent.Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

Volkswagen of America saw sales fall for the fifth straight month in March as its core passenger cars continued to struggle with crossover-happy consumers, while Audi’s hot streak continued, notching its 63rd-straight monthly U.S. sales record.

The VW brand’s U.S. sales declined 10 percent to 26,914 vehicles. The fall was fueled by the Passat midsize sedan, down 22 percent, and the Jetta compact sedan, down 4.8 percent. The Tiguan compact crossover was VW’s only nameplate to post a gain in March, with sales rising 53 percent to 3,519.

Yet, like in January and February, VW’s U.S. dealers saw their retail business improve in March, VW of America COO Mark McNabb said in a statement. Through three months, VW’s U.S. sales slipped 13 percent to 69,314.

VW’s continued sales struggles come ahead of a key meeting Saturday between VW’s U.S. dealers and VW leadership at the National Auto Dealers Association convention.

Relations between company executives and dealers have been frayed following the disclosure of VW’s emissions violations.

VW executives are expected to discuss sales targets and plans to rebuild the fortunes of dealers who have struggled to make money after three years of waning sales and tension with the factory. VW dealers have also been unable to sell new diesel-powered cars since September.

VW dealers also expect to hear from executives about a possible settlement or reparations proposal to compensate dealers for financial damage in the wake of the emissions crisis. Some dealers are considering lawsuits.

Audi rolls along

Audi of America continued its record-setting pace, with March volume advancing 7.5 percent to 18,392 vehicles.

The gains were bolstered by redesigned vehicles. Sales of the redesigned Q7, which was launched earlier this year, nearly doubled to 3,004. A4 sales jumped 42 percent as the first shipments of the redesigned 2017 model began arriving in showrooms late last month.

Audi’s product cadence will continue with the A4 Allroad arriving this fall and the revamped R8 supercar arriving in the coming months. Through March, Audi’s U.S. sales rose 4.6 percent to 41,960.

“Customer response to our newly-designed models, like the all-new A4 and Q7, has bolstered sales, a sign of more good things to come,” Mark Del Rosso, Audi of America COO, said in a statement.