Emissions scandal crushes Volkswagen sales in November – USA TODAY
Volkswagen’s emissions scandal crushed the brand’s U.S. sales in November, despite heavy discounts and a strong month for the overall auto industry.
Sales plunged 25% to 23,882 units for the Volkswagen brand, compared to the same period a year earlier.
“It looks like this was the month that it finally caught up to them on the sales side,” AutoTrader.com analyst Michelle Krebs said.
The hardest-hit vehicles are the small cars involved in the scandal. For example, sales of the Passat sedan plunged 60%, while sales of the Beetle car fell 39% for the month.
The company has admitted to fitting up to 11 million diesel cars worldwide with software that cheats emissions standards.
The Volkswagen Group, the company that sells the VW, Audi and Porsche brands, reported a 0.4% increase for the Audi brand. The luxury brand’s involvement in the scandal had been fairly limited until November, when the company acknowledged that 85,000 bigger diesel vehicles — such as the Audi A6 and Q5 — also violated U.S. emissions certification rules.
The cheating software appears to be limited to diesel vehicles, which Volkswagen is not allowing dealers to sell until it can deliver fixes.
That stop-sale order has levied a devastating effect on U.S. dealers, who are receiving subsidies from the corporation to shore up their bottom line.
“Volkswagen is working tirelessly on an approved remedy for the affected” diesel vehicles, Volkswagen U.S. Chief Operating Officer Mark McNabb said in a statement. “During this time we would like to thank our dealers and customers for their continued patience and loyalty.”
The dismal sales performance came during what Edmunds.com analysts projected would be a 2.5% sales increase for the overall industry. The company has also been battered as customers flee cars in favor of crossovers.
The rough performance also came in spite of heavy incentive spending at Volkswagen dealerships. Volkswagen Group spent $3,747 on incentives per vehicle in November, up 27% from a year ago, according to TrueCar.
Overall industry incentive spending rose only 6% during that period. One bright spot was the Tiguan crossover, which soared 88% to 3,907 units as customers flock from cars to crossovers.
Krebs, the AutoTrader.com analyst, said one problem for Volkswagen is that the company hasn’t publicly revealed a proposed fix yet.
“We don’t even know the end game here. Nothing is going to improve in my view until a very clear comprehensive plan for taking care of consumers is outlined by Volkswagen,” she said.
Kelley Blue Book analyst Alec Gutierrez said there’s a serious risk that consumers won’t return to Volkswagen diesels even after the fix is delivered.
“There’s still a big question as to whether or not they’ve permanently impacted consumer perception of their diesel cars,” he said.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.