Volkswagen brand global sales fall after scandal, but mainly due to slump in Brazil, Russia

FRANKFURT – Volkswagen’s flagship brand saw global auto sales fall 5.3 per cent in October in the wake of a scandal over cars equipped with software that let them cheat on U.S. diesel emissions tests.

It appeared that economic downturns in Brazil and Russia caused as much or more damage than the scandal to the month’s figures. Volkswagen has been trying to limit sales damage in the United States by offering existing Volkswagen owners $2,000 off if they trade their old car in for a new VW model.

Figures released Friday showed sales in the U.S. — where the scandal first broke on Sept. 18 — were up 0.2 per cent. Sales in North America including Canada rose 3.5 per cent from the same month a year earlier.

Sales fell 26 per cent in Russia and 50 per cent in Brazil.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Volkswagen equipped 482,000 cars with software that turned off emissions controls and enhanced performance when the cars were not being tested.

The company says up to 11 million cars have the deceptive software, and adds that it has uncovered “irregularities” in measurements of how much carbon dioxide the cars emit. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas blamed by scientists for global warming, and faces increasingly strict limits in Europe.

For all of Volkswagen’s brands — which also include SEAT, Skoda, Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini — global sales fell 3.5 per cent to 831,3000 in October compared with a year earlier.