In Western Europe (including Germany), demand for Group models in 2008 was far more muted than in the previous year, although it was stronger than the market average. The significant downturn in demand for automobiles was triggered by the global financial market crisis. This is also reflected in the level of orders received by the Group in Western Europe, which decreased by 9.0% compared with the previous year.
In Western Europe excluding Germany, the Group recorded a 12.2% drop in the level of orders received.
At December 31, 2008, the Volkswagen Group held orders for 154,988 vehicles within Germany and for 179,208 units from the rest of Western Europe excluding Germany. This means that the level of orders was thus 23.3% lower than in the previous year.
sales to the dealer organization
In the reporting period, the Volkswagen Group – including the Chinese joint ventures – sold 6,271,724 vehicles to the dealer organization worldwide, 1.3% more than in the previous year. The growth in demand for Group models in China, Brazil, Russia and the Ukraine led to the share of vehicles sold abroad rising to 83.8% (previous year: 83.4%). Sales in Germany declined slightly by 1.7% compared with the previous year to 1,013,096 units.
At 734,259 vehicles sold worldwide, the Golf was once again our biggest seller, accounting for 11.7% of Group sales. The Gol, Golf Variant, Tiguan, Škoda Fabia Estate, Škoda Superb, Audi A4 saloon and Saveiro models recorded the strongest growth rates. In particular as a result of completed or planned model changes and updates, there was a decline in sales of the Polo, Golf Plus, Audi A6 Avant, Audi Q7, SEAT Altea and SEAT Leon.
The Volkswagen Group produced 6,346,515 vehicles worldwide in fiscal year 2008. This corresponds to a year-on-year increase of 2.1%. The healthy demand for our new models in particular led to an improvement in the capacity utilization at the plants. The production figures of our Chinese joint venture companies were 2.0% over the previous year’s figure, while Volkswagen do Brasil manufactured 4.8% more vehicles. The Audi brand production facilities also increased their output considerably. The share accounted for by production in Germany amounted to 33.8% (previous year: 33.6%). Each workday, our plants worldwide produced an average of 26,603 vehicles; this corresponds to an increase of 4.8% compared with the previous year. Production figures do not include the highly successful Crafter models produced in the Daimler plants in Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde, or the Routan, which is manufactured in cooperation with Chrysler in the USA.
Worldwide inventories were higher at the end of 2008 than in the previous year in the Group companies and the dealer organization. In addition to the increase in business volume, the reasons for this included the lag in adjusting production to the negative market development, which was unexpectedly pronounced, particularly in the second half of the year.