VW sales jump

VW sales jump

September 5th, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

In this March 22, 2012, file photo, workers assemble a Passat sedan at Volkswagen AG's plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

LOCAL SALES

New vehicles titled in Hamilton County through the first eight months of the year totaled 8,587 vehciles, up 17.2 percent from a year ago. New vehicle sales each month were:

• January: 1,032

• February: 896

• March: 1,099

• April: 1,134

• May: 1,069

• June: 1,112

• July: 1,076

• August: 1,169

Source: Hamilton County Clerk's Office

With Volkswagen's U.S. sales surging 62.5 percent in August over a year ago, the company is aiming for nearly a third of all Passats sold to hold its clean diesel engine.

Already, sales of the Chattanooga-made Passat TDI have reached the 25 percent mark.

"We think there is upside to the 30 percent range," said Frank Trivieri, vice president of sales for Volkswagen of America, on Tuesday.

Volkswagen led major carmakers in sales gains over last year during August.

Nationwide, Honda and Toyota sales jumped 60 percent and 46 percent, respectively, for the month over August of last year, the Japanese automakers reported.

Chrysler sales rose 14 percent last month versus a year ago, the company said. General Motors' climbed 10 percent.

Edmunds.com senior analyst Michelle Krebs said in a statement that the Chrysler brand was up 25 percent, while Ram rose 18 percent and Dodge another 13 percent.

"Chrysler truly spread its riches in August," she said. "The freshening of the Chrysler 300 is helping the brand, and the introduction of the Dart compact is giving Dodge a brand boost of its own."

Krebs added that GM is proof that new products and effective marketing can drive sales.

Cadillac sales were up, helped in part by the introduction of the flagship XTS sedan, and the Olympic ads for the entry-level ATS, which boosted shopping for the vehicle and the Cadillac brand in general, she said.

"Chevrolet sales were helped by a continued strong performance of the Sonic, a good start to the Spark, record sales of Volt and the venerable Equinox," Krebs said.

Trivieri, in a conference call with automotive analysts, specifically cited the Passat as an opportunity for growing its diesel line. All TDIs sold by VW in August accounted for 21.4 percent of total sales, the company said.

Overall VW sales in the U.S. for last month hit 41,011 units as the company posted its best August in the country since 1973.

"We've got the right product mix," said Trivieri.

Year to date, VW sales are 37.6 percent above a year ago.

Passat's total sales hit 10,900 in August, setting a record for the month, VW reported.

It also said Passat sales for the year so far hit a best-ever mark of 74,162.

In Hamilton County, the number of new vehicles titled, which closely track sales, rose 17.1 percent in August over a year ago, according to figures compiled by the clerk's office.