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VW's China sales hit the brakes
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Volkswagen AG yesterday said its sales in China slowed for the first three quarters of this year as the global economic meltdown and rising fuel prices tamed market demand.

Europe's largest car maker sold 772,783 vehicles, both imported and locally made, in China for the first nine months of this year, an increase of 13.1 percent, according to a company statement.

This compared to a 23.3-percent sales increase for the first half of this year and 28 percent last year.

Sales of Volkswagen-branded vehicles rose 7.5 percent to 637,857 units from January to September.

Its luxury car unit Audi sold 89,715 units, an increase of 19.2 percent, while sales of Skoda vehicles more than doubled to 44,829 after it launched the Chinese-made Octavia sedan.

Volkswagen joins overseas car makers such as General Motors and Toyota, which are experiencing slower sales growth in China, as inflation hit a 12-year high, dampening demand.

"China's auto market developed at a slower pace this year under the combined impact of the global economic slowdown, financial turmoil, higher fuel prices and natural disasters," said Winfried Vahland, president of Volkswagen Group China.

"But we managed to continue our steady growth, boosted by new models and upgraded services."

Domestic car makers sold a combined 629,000 vehicles last month, a decrease of 6.34 percent from a year earlier.

(Shanghai Daily October 10, 2008)

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