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FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2011 file photo the Volkswagen logo is photographed at the company's headquarters at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. Automaker Volkswagen says Wednesday, April 29, 2015, that net profit rose to 2.93 billion euros (US dollar 3.23 billion) in the January-March quarter, from 2.47 billion euros in the same quarter a year ago. (AP Photo/Ferdinand Ostrop, File)

German automaker Volkswagen said first-quarter profit rose 19 percent from a year ago as cost-cutting improved profit margins at its namesake brand and as European car sales showed a modest recovery.

Net profit rose to 2.93 billion euros ($3.23 billion) in the January-March period, from 2.47 billion euros in the same quarter a year ago.

Volkswagen AG said Wednesday that its efforts to reduce costs had saved more than 100 million euros in the quarter - a figure "in the low triple-digit millions," as the news release put it - at the mass-market Volkswagen brand. That lifted the profit margin to 2.0 percent from 1.8 percent.

The Volkswagen brand was still hit by falling sales in Russia, which is suffering from economic sanctions over Ukraine and a fall in the ruble, and in South America.

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