Volkswagen of America, Inc. today reported a 10.3 percent drop in April sales compared with a year ago as more car buyers shifted to light-duty trucks and SUVs and the Chattanooga-made Passat faced increased competition from other mid-size sedans.
VW said today it delivered 33,644 units in April, including 9,069 Passat cars made in Chattanooga. Passat sales were down in April by 10.2 percent from a year ago.
The slowdown in sales led VW to decide last month to cut its staff of contract workers in Chattanooga by 500 employees in the next two months.
"While it was a challenging month, particularly in the compact and midsize sedan segments, we remain solidly focused on our long term growth strategy," Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America said in a statement today. "In spite of segment challenges with robust competition, the Jetta sedan and Passat showed strength in April and so far this year."
Despite last month's sales decline, Passat sales so far this year are still up by 1 percent over last year. In the first four months of 2013, VW delivered 34,635 Passats.
More than 30 percent of the Passats sold last month were diesel brands.
Browning said the mid-size sedan market is growing slower than other automotive segments and is facing competition with four new vehicles introduced among the top six car makers in the past year.