Volkswagen's top brass from Germany and the U.S. emphasised in a meeting tonight ahead of the Detroit auto show that VW Group's U.S sales last year were the best ever.
VW, including its Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini luxury brands, hit 580,286 last year, breaking its previous record of 577,387 in 1970.
VW Group last summer completed its acquisition of Porsche and will begin including those sales in its corporate totals in the U.S. and worldwide. Porsche sold 35,043 vehicles in the U.S. last year, roughly 25 per cent of its worldwide sales.
Though last year's sales -- up 30.6 per cent from the previous year -- were reported Jan. 2, the company had not previously disclosed that its calculations show the total as a record-breaker.
German parent VW AG is pushing the U.S unit to rapidly ramp up sales as part of the company's plan to become inarguably the best-selling auto company in the world. It has popped into No. 1 from time to time, but Toyota and General Motors are the reigning global sales champs.
VW's Passat mid-size sedan and Jetta compact are the U.S. sales stars. Both were redesigned to better satisfy American tastes, a move that purists considered equivalent to "dumbing down" the cars. But buyers loved the changes, and sales of both have rocketed as a result. VW also put a factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., to build the Passat.
Despite the good U.S. sales news, VW executives noted that the European economy is a continuing challenge to automakers.
Christian Klinger, VW's board member in charge of sales, said that despite good overall results, "We are still keeping a vigilant eye on the future because the present uncertainties will intensify this year, particularly in Western Europe."
VW AG "developed extremely well in difficult conditions," CEO and board chairman Martin Winterkorn said.