As a result of the financial crisis, global economic growth in 2009 is likely to be negative. Based on current estimates, only China and India will be able to escape this trend. The ongoing uncertainty among market players will have a particularly negative effect on consumer demand and investments. The world’s automotive markets will be particularly affected by this development and will decline substantially compared with the previous year. Negative growth will be seen in almost all regions. We expect to see the largest drop in South America and Europe, with demand being likely to shrink more in Central and Eastern Europe than in Western Europe. We are also expecting considerable declines for the North America region. By contrast, the Asia-Pacific region will only decline slightly.
With its nine brands and young model range, the Volkswagen Group is well prepared for this situation in terms of segment coverage, customer-focused technological innovations and models for growth markets. In 2009, the individual brands will again introduce numerous new and low-consumption models that will further extend the Group’s product portfolio and cover new market segments. For this reason, although we assume that the Volkswagen Group will be unable to escape the downward trend, we believe that it will perform better than the market as a whole and will be able to gain additional market share during the crisis.
The Group’s sales revenue in 2009 will be lower than in the previous year because of the decline in volume sales. Rising refinancing costs and a worsening of the country mix will serve as an additional drag on earnings. Volkswagen will counter this trend in particular through disciplined cost and investment management and the continuous optimization of its processes. Ecological relevance and the return on our vehicle projects are the core elements of the “18 plus” strategy.
The high volatility of market developments does not currently permit any reliable forecasts to be made for fiscal year 2009. Based on the extremely weak business at the beginning of the year, earnings will not reach the high levels of previous years.
Wolfsburg, February 17, 2009
The Board of Management
Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz
Hans Dieter Pötsch