BERLIN–A sharp fall in China pulled Volkswagen AG (VOW.XE) new car sales into a decline in January, highlighting the German car maker’s growing dependence on its biggest market by sales.
Volkswagen said it sold 813,700 new vehicles world-wide in January. That represents a fall of 4% from the previous year, weighed down by continued weakness in Brazil and a 14% drop to 344,000 new vehicle sales in China.
The slump in China hit new car sales at the Volkswagen brand, the company’s biggest business, and its luxury car maker Audi. Sales at the VW brand fell 4.9% to 495,900 in January, while Audi sales plunged 13.5% to 124,000.
The German car maker attributed the weakness in China to calendar effects, especially the early timing of the Chinese New Year celebrations, higher vehicle taxes, and what it described as planning restraints on Audi dealerships.
Write to William Boston at William.Boston@wsj.com